Back when I first moved to college, despite being a philosophy major, I was placed in a dorm facility inhabited mostly by science and engineering majors — the kind of people who spend a lot of their free time playing video or computer games. I quickly found that there were two primary pastimes in Crown College at UC Santa Cruz: drinking alcohol and playing a game called DOTA.
For those who aren’t familiar with DOTA, it stands for Defense of the Ancients, and it’s a Warcraft III multiplayer mod. What’s a mod? That’s gamer speak for altering a game’s code to make it different. In this case, DOTA presents a specific game style that puts an emphasis on destroying buildings on opposite sides of the map.
Over the weekend, a $1.4 million prize — the largest prize ever awarded for any kind of video game competition — was awarded to a Swedish team in a DOTA 2 tournament, according to the BBC. The five-day event was hosted by a group called Valve, offered $2.8 million total in prize money and took place in Seattle.
Sixteen five-player teams from a dozen countries participated in the event. Moreover, 1,700 in-person spectators attended to watch the proceedings, while an online stream at one point had 600,000 simultaneous views.
As the BBC points out, the record prize comes just months after Canadian gamer Danny Le was granted a United States work visa. The move essentially makes Le legally no different than any other professional athlete, giving further legitimacy to professional gaming.