Free to Play: The Movie review

This is a review by Skylent Shore of Free to Play: The Movie, a Dota 2 documentary created by Valve. You can watch the movie for free here, but the YouTube video is also embedded below.

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After wiping my eyes at the ending scene of Free to Play, I instantly contemplated how I would review this documentary. It wasn’t what I was expecting, it was much darker in fact but it was surprising how hard it hit me and how well done it was, how the story was told. Free to Play is a free documentary that you can download on Steam or even watch on YouTube. It follows three professional Dota 2 players as they make their way against each other to win the biggest prize pool a video game tournament has ever yielded, with the first place team winning 1 million dollars. One thing I can absolutely respect is the honesty that this documentary brings. Yes, video games are glorified here but this documentary shows us exactly the sacrifice it takes to play a game this seriously.

The name is sarcastic, “Free to Play” because in order to be the best, these players have to give up nearly everything for a mere chance to compete, to be absolutely “free” of distractions. One of the points I really liked learning about which I completely agree with is that the cultures in separate regions of the world treat gaming completely different, with South Korea worshiping gamers and average America looking down at the idea of competitive gaming. Despite this though, we have these challengers who are really not just gamers but pioneers for the future of gaming itself. They are pushing the competitive gaming scene into the spotlight.

I’m not expecting a “Friday Night Lights” of video gaming to show up anytime soon; fingers crossed though, but Free to Play does show how far competitive gaming has come and it does a good job at portraying the individuals that are making it possible. However, not everyone can win and the sacrifice is huge to even try and be a contender in these games. Free to Play really shows us some very human moments in these people’s lives, some happy but mostly sad. So, after wiping my eyes because of how closely I relate to this documentary, I instantly knew that I wanted everyone to watch this. If you play games at all, you will respect this movie and it’s free to watch, so no loss.

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