We’ve talked a lot here on the blog about how you could spend money on houses from some of the greatest video games ever made, but did you realize that there are actually people who make money playing games? They’re called pro gamers, and what they do is serious business. One of the most popular titles in their (sometimes highly profitable) line of work is “League of Legends”. In fact, the third “season” of the game will culminate this week in a best of five championship match between two teams at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, with the winners taking home a whopping $1 million split five ways.

lol-gameplayWhile I’m a complete noob at the game, my boss (and the Movoto Real Estate Blog’s chief economist) Chris Kolmar is a pretty devout player with skillz (Silver V, at least) that make mine look like a newborn trying to use a mouse for the first time. His excitement about the game and the community surrounding it recently got us all thinking about how we could apply our signature fictional property evaluation formula to its fantastical world of MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) combat.

After kicking around some ideas, we decided to take a crack at pricing a Nexus, one of the most important structures in the entire game. This stone portal, through which allies called minions are summoned into battle, is also the very thing players are attempting to destroy in order to win a match.

So, I volunteered to make a valiant attempt at figuring out how much one would cost to buy in the real world. What did I conjure up? A sticker price of $24,106.

Since a Nexus isn’t technically a “house” in the strictest sense, and the land of Valoran in which “League of Legends” takes place isn’t actually supposed to be on Earth, I went into this evaluation knowing it would be a tricky one. But I’m anything if not resourceful, so I eventually came up with a way to make it all work. If you’ll keep reading, I’ll tell you how I did it—and I promise not to gank you with boring numbers along the way.

How I Valued a Nexus (and Learned a Bunch About “LoL” in the Process)

Despite the fact that a Nexus isn’t a traditional house, I decided that I could still use many of the same methods we’ve employed in our other fictional property evaluations to value it. That meant I needed to know the three core things required for any evaluation:

  • The location of the Nexus
  • The size of the Nexus
  • The price per square foot in the location

Of everything I had to track down, I knew it was the location that was going to be the most challenging with this one, so let’s start with that.

Where in the (Real) World is Valoran?

First things first. For the uninitiated—which included me before I started researching this evaluation—”League of Legends” is set in a fantasy world called Runeterra, over which various races have been vying for control for generations upon generations. The game itself plays out on four different maps known as Fields of Justice. So, in order to get this evaluation rolling, I first had to decide which of these maps I’d be using to determine my real-world location.

lol-mapAfter communing with Kolmar and studying up on all things “LoL”, I learned that while there are four Fields, there’s only one that’s used in pro matches like the one going down this week: Summoner’s Rift. Going with that one became a no-brainer, so I delved into its in-game location. What I found is that it’s located in the northern part of the continent of Valoran, near an icy land known as Freljord, between the Serpentine River and Ironspike Mountains.

Valoran is an interesting continent in that it incorporates a wide variety of biomes found on Earth all in one place. So, it has ice-capped mountains, sweltering deserts, murky swamps, steamy jungles, and lush forests all within its borders. It’s also a melting pot, with several races occupying its lands. In searching the real world for an equivalent, I initially looked at Europe and even Africa, with the latter having more of the requisite environments I was after than the former. Eventually, though, I was drawn to North America. While this continent isn’t traditionally ascribed to fantasy lore, it does offer pretty much everything I was after.

I searched for an area with snowy mountains to the north, waterways to the west, mountains to the east, and deserts, swamps, and jungle-like climes to the south. What I ended up with was Washington state, specifically the Seattle, WA area. Why? Because it’s just south of the snow covered mountains of Vancouver, east of waterways and a major port, west of the Rocky Mountains, and pretty far north of America’s swamps and bayous, just as Summoner’s Rift is in relation to Valoran’s equivalent environments. The clincher: Summoner’s Rift is set among an evergreen forest, and the Seattle area has plenty of that to go around. The map has also appeared in various in-game versions set during different seasons, something you’d also get in North America, and America is “the great melting pot.”

So, despite being a bit intimidated at the outset, I felt confident that I had an appropriate real-world location picked out. Next I had to size up a Nexus.

Making Sense of a Minion’s House

Like I said up top, a Nexus is less of a house and more of a summoning portal for bringing guys called Minions onto the Field of Justice but, in a sense, it’s kind of where they lived before being called into action. Just go with it and don’t report me, okay?

lol-nexusAnyway, I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at measuring houses in video games (even 2D ones like “Castlevania”), so I put those skills to work in the word of “LoL”. Essentially, I studied screenshots of the Nexus, particularly images where male human Champions (the name for the game’s main player-controlled character) were standing next to one. That way I could see how large they were in relation to it and use my previously determined average shoulder width for muscular male game characters (21 inches) to measure it.

I did just that, and determined that the hexagonal stone structure is six feet wide on each side, with one level covering approximately 96 square feet (with a big glowing gem on top). That’s tiny for a human, but I imagine that if you’re an ethereal minion, or a small character like this Teemo everyone seems to hate so much, it’s actually pretty roomy.

With the size and location figured out—two of my three lanes, if you will—I just needed to nail down my third: comparable properties.

Does Anyone Have a Stone Hexagon for Sale?

It may come as a surprise to you, but I was unable to locate any 96-square-foot stone dwellings for sale in the Seattle area—and believe me, I tried. So, what I had to do in order to get a price per square foot for a Nexus-like structure there was to find the smallest traditional homes I could.

After tracking down a few, I averaged together their list prices, divided by their square footage, and arrived at a price of $279 per square foot. That settled, I could get on with summoning up the final numbers I needed.

A Small Summoner’s Summer Home

To get the final value of a Nexus, I simply multiplied the square footage (96 square feet) by the price per square foot ($279) and wound up with $26,784. If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot for such a tiny structure, I couldn’t agree more. Especially for one that doesn’t have any doors or windows. That being the case, I slashed 10 percent off the price for the sheer inconvenience of anyone but a Minion living there, resulting in a final—or should I say ultimate—value of $24,106.

Remember earlier when I said that the winners of this week’s “League of Legends” season three final will take home $200,000 each? Well, that would mean—even if they got hit with a 40 percent tax on those winnings—they could each afford nearly five real-world Nexuses (Nexi?) to call their own, provided they lived in Seattle (and you could really buy a Nexus, obviously).

Looking at it another way, they could each afford a 712 square foot home in Seattle, where the median home price is now $281 per square foot. Not bad for a day’s gaming—er, work.