Having just gotten out of school, LoL is the most recent game I've had time to devote a great amount of effort to. (Not that my being unemployed and its being free didn't help...) A long time friend finally convinced me to give it a try. I wasn't completely unaware of the rising MOBA genre, having grown up with Blizzard like many other gamers, but "hardcore" competitive gaming always turned me off. You know how it is, its hard to play for fun when people are doing nothing but giving you advice on how to kill yourself or who's knob might need a good slobbing. This is one of the primary reasons I cancelled my LIVE account. Well, that and having my ear raped by pre-pubesscent sugar fiends. Despite my better judgement I played a few co-operative games against the computer and was sucked in.
The sheer number of characters available in LoL was initially what pulled me in. LoL swapped things up a bit, providing variety not in numerous available maps or re-skinned weapons, but through characters who have different roles and abilities. While the number of choices available was exciting, it also drove the learning curve up, especially for a new player like me. I had to play about 8 games just to find a character whose play style I meshed with, and though I was still dying every other push, the fun of figuring out how to play kept me coming back. I was playing just to have that fleeting feeling of "Haha! I did it!" (even though I still suck at this game!)
In a world where so many people are accustomed to the instant gratification of cell phones, television and (shock!) video games, its difficult to keep interest in something for longer than it takes us to take it for granted. I don't play a lot of shooters for instance, because for me all the iterations of "Modern Call of Warfare Duty" and the like are all roughly the same game with different coats of lens flare and dirt physics. I'm not saying that each doesn't have its nuances and isn't a well made game, they just don't appeal to me because I've already played so many other titles just like them. (Am I the only one that liked Hexen better than Doom?) For me, one of the great things about LoL that kept me coming back is that each character is crafted carefully to provide a unique play experience. Even within the general roles of tank, support, pusher, etc., the characters are refined enough to offer different play experiences.
Once I found a character that I was halfway decent with, and learned the general flow of gameplay in an actual match, I came to enjoy refining my play style with my main and exploring new opportunities with weekly free characters. LoL drove me onward by dangling the potentiality of newness in an environment of familiarity. Like going to the sandbox in the park every weekend for fun with the added bonus of discovering what new things others might have buried or left behind.
While I know I'm the kind of person that will eventually tire of the game and move on to the next shiny object dangled before my eyes, for the moment, LoL has caught my attention and driven me to explore its nooks and crannies for little tips and tricks to give me that "I did it!" feeling.
Looking back on my time with multi-player games like LoL, Guilty Gear, Team Fortress, Rival Schools, etc., and even single player games like Dark Cloud, Mass Effect, Contra, and others, they've all given me that "I did it" feeling in some way or another. Finding that one cheep combo in a fighting game, combining items to forge some ungodly horror with which to decimate my foes, or that one spot on the map where I can see you but you can't see me, all of those little achievements you work for that actually pan out are why people play games, and what drives them to get better. For me, as long as I can find an interesting place and fun people to share it with, I'll excel there. I may not hit Uber Tournament Grade SSS Exciting!, but who wants all that fame and money anyway?