Valve, the company behind Steam and many extremely popular game franchises like Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life, created a documentary about the biggest esports tournament that had ever taken place before 2011. They both sponsored the tournament and created the game that was played: Defense of the Ancients2 (or Dota 2).
The film was originally planned to be a simple documentary about the first tournament of its scale for the game, which was still in development at the time. After delving into three particular players’ backstories, however, the documentary makers and Valve decided to create a feature-length film that was released in March of 2014 and captured the essence of the growing space of esports.
I watched two videos recently that blended nicely together on the topic of competitive or professional video game play. The first was a Rev3Games Casual Friday where the primary trio of hosts chatted about the president of ESPN saying esports weren’t “real sports” and whether that actually mattered. The second was the Top 10 TF2 Plays of July(1)It takes a month to compile/edit the content., showcasing the best moments in Team Fortress 2 competitive play.
TF2 was my primary game while I was involved with Couch Athletics from 2008-2012. I played in and ran multiple weekly events for years and logged over 3,000 hours in the game. I haven’t played TF2 much since then, but I still regularly follow eXtelevision, a YouTube channel dedicated to casting and highlighting great competitive TF2. This video in particular had several great clips from many of the nine classes in the game that inspired me to collect examples for each one and talk about what makes Team Fortress 2 a game of great depth and excitement for both player and viewer. Consider it a primer for an important game and its diverse gameplay, as well as a defense of its value as an esport, even if you won’t ever play it!
Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary released in 2012, chronicling the development of Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid and their effects on their creators. It’s a very personal story, focusing primarily on four individuals and the massive swings in their tone, mood, and outlook throughout the development cycle and through release.
I appreciated its ability to create a narrative that felt honest without being contrived. It’s clear for these games in particular that a lot was riding on them, and the pressures to complete them in a timely manner that satisfied everyone were real and weighed heavily. It’s shot, edited, and paced very well to show both interviews and real moments of triumph and despair as they happen.