When I used to be an avid multiplayer gamer, I instinctively gravitated towards playing support roles, or roles that amplified the abilities of others. During my recent return to playing League of Legends with an old high school friend, I’ve played support for almost every game. He’s a bit lower rank than I am, consistently leading to matchmaking making me the highest ranked player on our team, and sometimes in the entire game. The downside of this set-up is that, as the support player, you can’t individually compete in any match-ups since you’re too weak on your own. You need to solely rely on others that get the work done, while keeping them alive or creating opportunities to get ahead. Still, we’ve won far more games than we’ve lost regardless.
At lower ranks, I’ve noticed that people tend to want to play sexier roles that lead to high-impact, such as champions that can dive into a fight and instantly drop someone’s health to zero. This tendency lead to one major realization when I was looking for a way to climb the ladder: if you enjoy playing support, you’ll get a lot of match-ups where the opposing team’s support was forced to play support, since every other role had already been filled. In this scenario, by being an experienced support player, you can easily shift the tides in your favour and significantly outclass your opponents, paving the way for your teammates to snowball out of control. Strategic disruptions early game can have rippling effects throughout the remainder of the game.
Outside of just video games, this tendency has manifested itself in the joy I get out of being able to make the lives of others easier with technology. We live in an age where technology is so fundamental in the way we interact with the world, both in leisure and work. Whether it’s through organization with digital todo-lists or calenders, or entertainment through watching shows and reading, or work with data analysis and e-commerce, software continues to “eat the world” by replacing physical processes with corresponding digital ones. To me, technology allows us to amplify and scale tasks in ways still unimaginable to the vast majority of people. Being able to create and provide the tools that enable this amplification has and continues to be extremely rewarding.
Some examples of the ways I’ve managed to leverage software in my life include setting up an e-commerce site for my friend which has grown exponentially over the past few years, creating a simple command-line interface for my girlfriend to accelerate an onerous data cleaning process, and writing a site-scraper with SMS notification for another friend who was trying to do a booking for a contentious appointment she needed as an important pre-requisite to something else. It brings me a lot of joy to work on something that makes the lives of people easier, even if only trivially.
Our society heavily celebrates individual contribution and ability as a virtue, such as by limiting the number of people who can win a Nobel prize to two or by idolizing individuals like Steve Jobs. Individuals can make amazing things on their own through their vision; such was the case with games like Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Undertale, and The Touhou Project. However, this should not discredit the importance of collaboration and the amazing things that a group of people, supporting each other, is capable of creating. Even with the few examples I’ve listed, the community of fan content creators, modders, and players helped shape them into what they are today.