I’ve been a big fan of the DotA genre for years now.

I remember when I was first introduced to the game. It was just another modded map available on WarCraft3 Battle.Net – nothing spectacular. There were hundreds of different modded maps available to play. “Tower Defenses”. “Hero Defenses”. “RPGs”. You name it, they got it.

Then there was Defense of the Ancients. Alongside it, there was also 3 Corridors. Both gaming maps of equally similar concepts and prospects.

I don’t know what happened in between, but along the way, Defence of the Ancients gained massive popularity very quickly, and before I knew it, LAN centres had a majority of their computer screens capturing some pretty intense DotA action.

This was around the year 2004/2005. I was in my first year at boarding school. Somehow the DotA craze even caught up to the gamers at my school and a number of us were constantly playing DotA round after round.

Since gaining viral popularity, DotA was given a gaming genre to itself, classifying its gameplay style as a Mass Multiplay Online Real Time Strategy (MMORTS). That was how I remember the start of the DotA generation.

Over the years, I came in and out of the game, but never really gave up the game completely. DotA was constantly being updated with new game play styles and character “Heroes”, that they never gave players the opportunity to be bored of it.

Then in 2009, I caught wind of a new game called Heroes of Newerth. Reviewed as a spin-off from DotA, I heard the original creators of DotA played a role in building Heroes of Newerth as a standalone game, completely disconnected from the Warcraft 3 platform. My ears were raised and my eyebrows twitched.

I quickly caught access to beta keys for the first public beta trial of the game. I was instantly hooked. Everything was in many ways – the same. Same game. Same heroes. Same arena.

On top of that, new and improved gameplay and breathtaking graphical improvements.

There was no turning back. I knew this was a game that was going to be hard to let go of.

Heroes of Newerth is a complete based off an online platform. It cannot be played offline or on a network, but instead runs off dedicated online servers from all over the world that accustoms itself to players’ regions.

So no it can’t be played on a local area network. But yes, it can be played at LAN centres so long as you have connection to the internet.

Just as DotA took off, HoN quickly built a reputation for itself. It quickly grew and overtook numerous elements that I believe DotA lacked due to its Warcraft 3 counter-part limitations.

As time went on, I only grew more passionate for the game I so steadily invested so much of my time in.

When trying to explain my undying interest of the game to a non-gamer, I relate it to being kind of like a sport – where constant practice and strategic thought is needed to improve my one’s gameplay.

But I believe there is really one major influencial factor that really drove my passion for HoN – and that is HoNcast.

Honcast is a series of video podcasts that is constantly updated with video streaming of competitive games played around the world.

Essentially, Honcast is to HoN as The Golf Channel is to Golf, or as X-Games is to Extreme Sports, or as ESPN is to sports.

Honcast covers everything to do with HoN, from latest patch updates to the latest happenings in HoN world to live competitive streams. They have a team of shoutcasters who commentate over games, giving you a deeper insight into the strategies of competitive teams.

“But commentate? How do they commentate over games?”

Just as Jim Ross would commentate over a WWE match, BreakyCPK commentates over a HoN match. Take away the commentators, and it’d just be a boring scene consisting of two men dressed in tight swimming trunks trying to outmuscle one another. Same for HoN minus the men in tights.

Watch Honcast Top 10 Plays: Volume 10!

I believe many people still don’t understand why I constantly feel the need to play “computer games”. I don’t believe I owe anybody an explanation but I believe I do have a simple enough explanation that may just be simple enough to those who just don’t understand why people like me play computer games:

Why do people play sports? Is it to keep fit? Well, yes and no. If one’s only goal is to simply keep fit, then a simple cardiovascular exercise routine consisting of running and doing lifts is all one needs. Yet people choose to do certain sports to keep fit. They choose to do this so the physical aspects of doing exercise doesn’t feel as bland or as boring as it would if you ran or lift weights. On top of that, mental stimulation of strategy and tactics is implemented into the activity. You get the best of both worlds.

Why do people play chess? Because it stimulates mental activity as sports do. You think out strategies and tactics to overcome your opponent and knock out his king. Is it physically productive? No. But yet it is revered as a “mind” sport. It doesn’t have the same negative connotations as computer games do. But why? Because everyone understands the game, and everyone understands that having the right frame of mind to successfully play chess and overcome your opponent means you are capable of deep-thinking, which is a revered as a productive ability for any individual.

How does Heroes of Newerth come into context? I believe HoN is like a game of chess with layers of teamwork implemented into the game. I also believe that classifying HoN as a sport is definitely unmistakable. In fact, it already is classified as an e-Sport. That’s why there competitions are valid in the community. That’s why people dedicate so much time to try and work on their “game”. Like golf, there’s no real need to improve your game since afterall its just a game. But yet golfers constantly try to “improve their game”. Why? Because of personal satisfaction. Because of social satisfaction. Because its a sport and you just want to be good at it.

I like to think of HoN it as a fusion between old-school games like Chess and team sports like Football, played by the IT generation. It’s not for everyone like how Football just isn’t for everyone.

I’ve always enjoyed playing my sports. I’ve always enjoyed playing my board games. I’ve always enjoyed playing my computer games. Why can’t they all co-exist harmoniously?

It’s just quite sad that I don’t know many people here in Melbourne who actively play HoN.

But as long as there are games like HoN around, I know the MMORTS genre of games will live for many years to come.

Then again, at the end of 2011, there’s DOTA 2!

7 years down the track, and somehow it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever get old.