As a professional esport, Dota 2 is a highly competitive video game with the backing of a massive, and equally vibrant community. Multiple tournaments take place each year, bringing together some of the world’s top players to prove their worth at international venues. The latest event, Kiev Major, which took place in Ukraine, is facing controversy due to coverage by Polygon.
In the wake of its final, Polygon highlighted a video that played during the closing ceremony. Seen below, the “Girls of Kiev” trailer is a montage of women present in the crowd. The video created confusion for live viewers who found the montage somewhat awkward as it was presented largely without context.
Spectators who attend sporting events are featured on jumbotrons and on live television broadcasts every day. There’s even kiss cams for baseball games. It’s clear this was just an ill-conceived attempt to highlight the women attending the event as usually people joke that it’s esports is dominated by males. If anything, it was likely meant to be supportive and empowering. After all, women participate in these events and they’re awesome.
It wasn’t controversial, and that would’ve been the end of that—if not for Polygon’s insistence that the footage was taken without the consent of the women.
The piece’s author, Victoria Rose, compares the event footage to “creepshots,” the act of taking someone’s photograph in public without their consent. In 2012, Reddit was strongly criticized for hosting a community where creepy forum-goers shared sexualized pictures of women taken in public spaces without their knowledge for others to rate and ogle over.
“It’s all a little too similar to creepshots,” claims the Polygon author. “The cameras were to the side and above, capturing unengaged women with little active consent, as if PGL expected everyone spectating to share the same degree of … praise, perhaps, for the subjects in question.”
The author spends most of the article rambling on about the event organizer’s intentions, the “voyeuristic” nature of the montage, often repeating herself throughout the 1,300-word piece.
Ultimately it’s just an awkward video. But instead of sticking to the event and the matches played, Polygon veered off to manufacture some controversy–further alienating women from games by misleading the masses through showcasing a small faux pas as an indication to what esports is all about.
Rather than focus on the diversity of the crowd or how much esports has grown over the past few years, Polygon’s takeaway was how hostile the environment is to women. It’s almost as if they tried to find the worst outcome to complain about. After all, their roles as games critics depend on it.