Hopeful gaming future in “Free to Play”


Gamers playing “Dota 2” featured in the documentary “Free to Play.”

By Josh Alfrey

A documentary of love, loss, fear, perseverance and video games is near perfected in Valve’s film “Free to Play.”

The “Dota 2” documentary “Free to Play” was released this morning and countless gamers tuned in to enjoy the story unfold. As the Valve game is free to play on their Steam network, this documentary was available online for free. A live stream on Twitch.tv brought thousands of gamers together online.

For those unaware of the game, “Dota 2” is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game where players control a single hero. Like a mix of chess and basketball, gamers face off five-on-five and must coordinate with their team the path to destroying the enemy’s base and to victory.

This documentary told a story that any gamer or non-gamer could relate to. The filmmakers’ focus on three players making their way through the eSports scene brought strong empathy to the project. Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, Benedict “hyhy” Lim Han Yong and Clinton “Fear” Loomis take center stage with their emotionally driven stories of fighting to keep their competitive gaming dreams alive.

While it left me wishing that it would teach the history of the game’s competitive scene more, its human element can’t go without praise. One of the more touching scenes was when the viewers are told how Ishutin’s father passed away when he was young and how that led to him spending a lot of time playing video games.

Now he has become one of the most recognizable competitive gamers in the entire world. This feel-good story told the tale of ordinary people being able to do something extraordinary and groundbreaking in video games.

The film crew’s ability to capture moments from The International 2011 “Dota 2” Championships showed the emotional ride that these competitors went through. Playing highlights from the games with the reaction of the players showed their triumph in victory and utter dejection in defeat, pulling the audience into the competitors psyche.

Interviews from Ishutin, Yong and Loomis broke the story from being in a digital cage. This game is these players’ lives and winning meant absolutely everything to them. Losing was never an option and as a viewer I wanted to see them all take first even though I knew that couldn’t be.

“Free to Play” is an incredibly colorful and realistic piece of work that left this viewer wondering if there are any limits to what eSports can accomplish. When breaking down any sport it comes to a person, a game and a struggle to be the best.