Valve is the latest video game company embroiled in a controversy over racism, as Dota 2's professional players have come under scrutiny for some offensive remarks made toward Chinese players in game. Unlike Nintendo's Mr. Game & Watch problem, however, it's not something that can easily be edited out of a game engine - Valve is starting a battle against the more toxic side of its player base, which will take time, effort, and patience.
The incident began with compLexity Gaming player Andreid "skem" Ong, who made an inappropriate comment in All Chat during a match with Chinese team Royal Never Give up. The Chinese Dota 2 community - which is massive, by the way, having been estimated as 40-50 percent of the entire playerbase back in 2014 - then justifiably became incensed by the racial slur. compLexity issued what they described as a "formal reprimand" and a fine, which stymied the controversy a little although the Chinese community was still clamoring for an official response from both Dreamleague (the company that was running the tournament the comment was made during) and Valve itself.
A few days later, another player named Carlo "Kuku" Palad inexplicably used the exact same slur against a Chinese team during a game as well. Naturally, the Chinese Dota 2 community felt like nothing had been learned, and so they review bombed Dota 2 on Steam to try and get Valve to take the offenses seriously, adding nearly 6,000 negative reviews to the game's Steam page. One of the greatest players of all time, Xu "BurNIng" Zhilei also got involved, publicly sharing an email with Valve that stated the company would involve itself if necessary - and finally, over a week after the first incident happened, Valve is actually responding. Here's an excerpt from the company's statement regarding the Dota 2 controversy:
"We think it is really damaging to the entire Dota community whenever even a single professional player uses discriminatory language. It pits fans against each other, belittles and demeans entire groups and makes them feel like they are not as important. Going forward, we expect all teams who participate [sic] our tournaments to hold its players accountable, and be prepared to follow up with strong punishments when players represent Dota and its community poorly."
That statement has done little to quell the Dota 2 controversy so far, though. Fans have rightly pointed out that the full statement, available here, doesn't actually state that Valve will do anything regarding these incidents now or in the future. Instead, the company simply expects teams to handle it for Valve, while also absolving the developer from any inaction in the future.
Making a statement about the racist remarks that plague Dota 2, even at its highest levels, is certainly a start for Valve, and it's also opening a pandora's box for the company. This issue has persisted for far longer than just the last few weeks, with public games featuring blatant racism, and there will inevitably be members of the community who feel it has been tolerated for far too long to enact change with just a strongly worded statement.
The most recent Dota 2 controversy isn't going away any time soon. Expect more players to find themselves in trouble in the near future, and look for professional teams and Valve to follow through on their promise - otherwise the backlash for the next incident might threaten the future of Dota 2, a game that routinely hosts multi-million dollar crowd-funded tournaments as part of its selling points.
Source: Dota 2 Blog