[Movie Review] Free to Play is for people who WANT to understand Gamers


Valve has given both gamers and non-gamers a really great gift: the gift of understanding. I heard about Free to Play a few months back during The International 3 when it was being shown to a bunch of people in the event and everyone was having good things to say about it. Now it’s finally here and it’s free for people to watch and enjoy.

Free to Play is a documentary that takes you into the life of a bunch of pro-gamers to see what it is like for them to get to and to live their dream. I was excited to see this documentary for 3 reasons: 1 is because I felt like I could relate, and 2 because the game they focus on is Dota 2 which I have spent some time playing. And when I say some time, I actually mean around 900+ hours. Lastly, it features one of my favorite tier 1 pro teams in Na'Vi.

What makes this documentary good for me is that it brings to light the whole e-sports scene. While in the past it used to be about being the best in your village, or best in your class or best in the city, now it’s being the best in the world. And the prize money is no pushover. Some Dota 2 tournaments like the International last for like 2 weeks and the prize pool for first place is over a million US dollars. Split that 5 ways or let’s say 8 ways at least when you include the managers and trainers and that’s over $100k each. Not bad for 2 weeks worth of playing time. It also explores not only the winning side but what happens if you lose. These guys train and train for months at a time and if you’re lucky and get into an organization that gives you a salary, then good. But if not, then you don’t get anything when you lose.


A lot of the things in this movie I have experienced myself like having your peers or family always be against doing what your one of your passions in life is. But life goes on. It’s nice to see that there are other people who are also like me and those who really take the time to pursue them full time.

Free to Play is one of those documentaries that when you look back 5 to 10 years from now, you’ll realize that there was in fact a time when e-sports was just getting big. Hopefully by that time it will be more generally accepted by the community and the next generation folks won’t have to spend that much time having to explain to their peers and parents why they love this sport. Until then, I’m not going to stop doing what I do. And hey, Jeremy Lin’s in it.
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