Game Log # 8: Pushing the Boundry of the Magic Circle

Game Log # 8

Online games have always been notorious for having unpleasant (“toxic”) player bases. League of Legends is most notorious for this, and unfortunately Overwatch is also rising in notoriety in this regard. There is a specific kind of magic circle that gets built around games that are “ranked”. Ranked games means that as you and your team play others, your personal player rank rises. Getting into the top 500 often means getting scouted to join a pro team that plays in tournaments, and for many players getting to that point is the goal. As they play, the players create conceptions of how the game works based on their past experiences, and they see anyone who chooses to play in a different style as violating their magic circle.

It has this strong effect because of how engrossing an experience it is. A player cannot pause the game while there is a match running, so everyone on the team has to be focused for a full 30-40 minutes while they work together to win. Hearing the voices of other, real people makes everything in the game seem so much more weighted, so when a team mate decides to break the magic circle by purposefully making harmful actions it just illicit a reaction that much worse.

It is interesting being able to hear your other teammates, and how they react when someone decides to start playing the game in a different manner. Some actions, such as choosing to play certain, less powerful characters will absolutely enrage other players on your team, and from these reactions one can deduce a list of rules by which the magic circle is maintained.

The rules include, but are not limited to:

  1. The magic circle is only maintained when you are winning. Once winning stops, the feeling of being a great player who is climbing their ranks to the pro leagues immediately vanishes.
  2. Toxicity. Spewing hatred and bigotry over the voice-com breaks the magic circle by reminding the players that they are not working with a group to complete a series of objectives, but are actually just dealing with jackasses on the internet. Cooperation is highly valued, and those who don’t follow that break something sacred about the game. Plus it detracts from the sense of winning.


A photo of the team HUD shown before the start of every match.

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