It seems like a simple question, but it entails a lot more than you think it does. Why is this game addicting? Why does it excel in its genre? In essence, why do we keep coming back, despite how toxic the community is and how Riot can sometimes just bungle it horribly? Why do we bother playing League of Legends?
All of us who are really into this game have a lot of reasons. For one, we're all fiercely competitive. If you've ever journeyed into ranked, it's because you want to prove you are good at the game, and that demands practice and games. There is a reason everyone freaks out about their soon-to-be-gone-forever elo – even if it's not supposed to be, everyone thinks it's a measurement of skill, and everyone wants to appear good. Not be good, but appeargood. This is one of the reasons elo boosting is around, after all.
But that's not really the core reason, because nobody ever went into a game competitively played – not Halo, or Call of Duty, or League, or Counter-Strike – just because it was a game to be competitive in. They did it because the game itself was fun. It's like the concept of 'who should I play to get good at the game'. The answer is always 'who you have fun with.' The meta shifts so much learning one champion is simply foolish.
So, why do we play League of Legends, anyway? It's actually pretty simple; it's because we like learning.
Take Portal for example – the game is all about progressive learning. When you play, you learn, bit by bit, how to play and solve puzzles. It's all about gaining further understanding, and when you realize how to do something, it beats any feeling around. Similarly, in League of Legends, when you are playing the game, it's all about learning. Even when you are just futzing around with your first character, it's a lot of fun.
So let's take Annie, one of the least complicated champions out there. You start to cast her Desintigrate to harass, and find out the magical number ticking up for some reason, then you discover woah, a stun! Then you learn you can Q to farm, charging up the stacks, and her flamethrow has a nice radius of damage. Her ult, Tibbers, has a huge radius and hits like a nuke.
And like that, bam, two totally unrelated concepts in your head smack together. Her ult with her passive is going to make an area of hurt, and when there's lots of people gathered together, a stun will set the whole team up for kills. It just sets the pieces down in front of you and lets you discover them all on your own. But that's the most basic example of it.
Further, let's take something like Xin Zhao. You are going to start your earliest games with him by blowing everything on the initiate. Gap close, slow, begin attacking for the cooldown drop, knock up in the third hit. But then you start to realize, wait, they keep getting out of my range on the third hit. What if I just auto attacked once or twice with Q on, then gap closed? I'd be guaranteeing myself that knock up. And then you do it, and it's glorious.
When I first started playing, Gangplank had just been overhauled, and he was really fun to learn, but not because he was straight-up overpowered. Okay, kind of because he was overpowered, but primarily because he had hidden subtleties that I didn't fully understand until I learned about them. Sure, he had a passive slow, a great Q for harassing, and he got passive movespeed and AD. But not until I really thought about all of them together – ranged attack, close to melee with advanced speed, rack up slows – did I really get a thrill out of Gangplank.
And it was just the beginning. Gangplank is the most fun to me because he's the first champ I really learned with the most. I learned, bit by bit, the way his Q worked, and how to build him. I learned Q could crit, and so I built Infinity Edge and Triforce and won games with sheer damage. I learned about stacking (diminished) slows, so I got Frozen Mallet and went for a tanky initiation build, using durability and GP's natural speed/slow mechanics to pick out priority targets.
And, even now, when you play and are 1400 elo climbing upwards, shooting for the Gold, you still enjoy learning, because there's always more to learn with this game. Matchups, builds, oddball picks, anything. Volibear was taken as a jungler, yet I started running him top and done pretty well! Then there's always the times where I just forget things.
I've played hundreds upon hundreds of games, and the other day, I had to fight an Annie. I didn't even remember how to deal with her or who was strong against her. When was the last time I had to fight an Annie? I'm legitimately asking, because I have no idea, and I had to relearn how to zone and outsustain her pretty much on the fly.
But let's even talk about something else - I'm sure you, and everyone around you, had a huge fixation on Dominion when it first launched. I, too, couldn't stop playing it, and the intensity of each match was leaving me breathless. I loved everything about it. But now, after I've learned some of the subtleties and tier lists have come out and I've discovered just how all-over-the-place it is, it compounded with the lack of a ranked queue to make me really uninterested in playing it. But for a few months, it was amazing, because there was miles of learning to be done.
The S3 patch, with all the new items and jungle, pretty much borked the game pretty hard with Black Cleaver abuse, and there's a ton of new items that are far less effective than their stronger counterparts. But for a few weeks, it was a great time relearning the game and going over new items and balance tweaks, like the Iceborn Gauntlet or the Sword of the Divine. Who do you build them on? How do you build them? I even said that, just looking at raw stats, I thought the Gauntlet and BoRK were overpowered, yet aside from a few instances, there's no BoRK autobuy every game.
The kind of people who have nothing left to learn – like the pro players, or those who stream all day, or the like – at this point play because it's their livelihoods, or because they like the competition. But nobody started this game by thinking to themselves, “This game is hard, therefore I find it fun.”
And, with that knowledge, maybe telling someone they're bad because they bungled something up or are inexperienced is not okay.