Kabir Vega Castellanos

Chuan, one of the world's best players.
Chuan, one of the world’s best players.

HAVANA TIMES — Recently, a video recording of the final match between the world’s best Dota 2 teams sparked off a discussion with some friends of mine.

I’ve never liked this strategy game all that much and was initially drawn to it by the excitement it seemed to awaken in others. The only thing it inspired in me, however, were criticisms.

The video showed a locale with many rows of seats, similar to a cinema or theatre, packed exclusively with nerds. I couldn’t see any women in the audience. The stage held two, glass-enclosed cubicles, each equipped with 5 computers, where the members of the two teams would sit and play. Three enormous screens had been set up above the cubicles to show the audience the game that was to unfold in the monitors.

Fans with elements from the game.
Fans with elements from the game.

The audience’s reaction when the members of the team “Na’Vi” arrived was even more astonishing for me than this setting: they high-fived the players with reverence, as though they were star soccer players.

It was a terrible let-down, for me, to see that one of the members of the team named “IG: Chuan”, whose incredible moves I’d seen in replays of Warcraft matches, was nothing like I had imagined. I don’t know why I had pictured him as an adult who led a normal, comfortable life and played PC games as a hobby. How disheartening it was to see it was actually an obese youngster who gives you the impression of spending nearly every hour of the day in front of the computer screen.

The most surprising thing of all occurred when the two teams met on the battlefield and the IG player used all of his powers against the captain of Na’Vi. The captain backed away, escaping unharmed, while the commentators passionately narrated the scene and the audience cheered frenetically. Everything struck me as rather hyperbolic, for it was a maneuver I could have pulled off myself.

Watching the match on tree screens.
Watching the match on tree screens.

That’s when the argument with my friends started. They had reacted like the audience in the video, convinced that Dota 2 is a sport and that its best players deserve to be acknowledged as stars.

I wonder how they can think that a game which, instead of exercising the body and improving its health, works to deteriorate it, is a sport. The young people who play it risk developing complications in their spinal column, vision, circulation and kidneys. They likely suffer from tendonitis, owing to the prolonged use of the mouse, and even nervous disorders.

In documentaries, I have seen on-line game addicts who, in order to continue playing without interruption and even avoid sleep, consume a lot of high-energy products, such as Coca Cola and chocolate, and ultimately end up in detox centers. Some even use disposable diapers so as to avoid having to get up to go to the bathroom.

I find all of this very sad. I like games, but I despise a person’s total submission to a form of entertainment that is ultimately just a way of killing time. It is even sadder when you know there are systems that take advantage of human weakness and deliberately cause addictions among people, so that a handful of individuals can become rich.

Just seeing the way my friends think makes me realize this is a serious problem, a problem that will also affect Cuba if, as some claim, we are about to let big, bad capitalism into our home.

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Kabir Vega

I am a young man whose development in life has not been what many might consider normal or appropriate, but I don’t regret it. Although I am very reserved, I dissent strongly from many things. I believe that society, and not only of Cuba, is wrong and needs to change. I love animals sometimes even more than myself since they lack evil. I am also a fan of the world of Otaku. I started in Havana Times because it allowed me to tell some experiences and perhaps encourage some change in my country. I may be naive in my arguments, but I am true to my principles.

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