Dota 2 made headlines recently, and not the good kind. The Chinese Dota 2 community — including Chinese publisher Perfect World — rose up against racism following repeated incidences of racism against Chinese online gamers. This behavior began at the start of November in a game between Chinese Dota 2 team Royal Never Give Up (RNG) and American CompLexity Gaming (COL) in DreamLeague. COL player Rolen Andrei Gabriel “Skemberlu” Ong (Skem) started the controversy by writing “Gl chingchong” in chat as a slur towards Chinese players. Later on, Carlo “Kuku” Palad of TNC Predator also used the derogatory term.
I'd like to apologize for the language I used today during the dreamleague match. I understand that words have consequences and I have learned from my mistake. I am very sorry to anyone that was offended.
— Andrei (@skemdota2) November 1, 2018
While both parties have since apologized, this caused a considerable uproar among the Asian community. The stream platform for DreamLeague, ImbaTV, submitted multiple complaints. These were directed to both the organizer of the event and Valve Corporation themselves. Among the first to respond was Perfect World, stating that it will never tolerate any kind of racism on its platform. Professional Dota 2 teams PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Team Aster issued statements of solidarity with Perfect World. Stating that they are all fiercely opposed to poor sportsmanship of this caliber, they urged Valve to come up with a prompt response.
The Dota 2 developers have apparently heard loud and clear. Valve has released an official statement regarding the racist behavior several weeks after the occurrence. This statement urges pro gamers to watch their language — even if they’re joking. Following is a reminder that being a professional gamer means that a person’s word is highly influential. With thousands of fans watching the world over, players should behave themselves in public settings. The entire statement can be read on their blog on the official Dota 2 website. The game has seen an increase in racial overtones as a direct result:
The International has always been about bringing fans from diverse cultures all around the world together to celebrate the game we love with one another. Professional players compete year-round, hoping for a chance to prove themselves on the grand stage. They have strong competitive spirits, with high emotions and drive to perform. That’s why we love watching them compete. We’ve always had an approach of letting the players be themselves, and to express themselves freely. That’s how it’s always been for a long time. However, we also expect pro players to understand that they represent the Dota community regardless of where they are. Words carry a lot of meaning. Some people may not agree or understand why certain words are harmful, but it doesn’t make it any less so to those on the receiving end. The language used by multiple players over the last week has caused many of our fans a lot of pain and is not behaviour that we condone.
Valve’s silence over this issue in the first several weeks drew some initial criticism. During that time, however, Valve involved themselves in community interaction regarding the issue. Creating a dialogue with both professional players and industry professionals, the developers wanted an insider opinion. They also wanted the Chinese Dota 2 community to know where they stand regarding the issue:
We hope that players and the community around the world will become better educated and more respectful as a result of the recent incidents. We think the communities everywhere around the world want the same things: for our favorite players and teams to do well, and for a great display of Dota. With the group stages over and the playoffs about to begin, we want to wish good luck to all the teams participating. Let’s enjoy some Dota together.
Unsportsmanlike behavior happens in all competitive scenes, and esports are no exception. Hopefully, in time, this kind of behavior can be seen as the detriment to enjoyment that it is. Players of all ethnicities should be able to compete and enjoy gaming without being subject to intolerance of any kind. Tempers can flare during high-level competitive play, but the onus should be on the players to control themselves.
What are your thoughts on Dota 2‘s recent statement? Let us know!
Programmer. Writer. Digital media specialist. Competitive gamer in the sense that I’m competing with the constant urge to throw the controller across the room.