[Op-Ed] Opening Dota 2's closets and 'open secrets' of abuse
The Dota 2 scene, like most esports divisions, has been harboring its fair share of skeletons in the closets and 'open secrets' kept under lock and key.
Through the years the door has been pried open just enough for the community to catch a fleeting glimpse of the darkness beyond.
Tweets from women in the community are always showing up on social media. Articles and content that objectify women surface every so often. Discrimination accusations and experiences continue to be brought to light. Leagues are created by and for women only so that they have a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.
But then the door is quickly slammed shut once again until the next time.
Its the door on the street that some speed up to walk past, looking forward as we race by pretending it doesn't exist. Its the one that others tiptoe past hoping not to wake or disturb the guard dogs. Its the one that some others purposely take a long way around to avoid and others simply just move away from instead.
It stands looming and foreboding but is never fully opened to expose what it harbors behind it or is knocked down and cleared away so that all may take a peaceful route without feeling threatened or forced to ignore.
But, my readers, it is time to force that door open and push it out of the community once and for all. I'm tired of writing about this for the last four years. I'm tired and ashamed.
But now some have become brave enough to cross that threshold and take it to the next step I, myself, even hadn't. And it is time the rest of the community comes behind them and not let the door close once again.
The most recent case in point is that of NA caster Grant Harris. If you aren't aware and have been living under a rock in the last 24 hours or have a much healthier use of your time than reading twitter and reddit all day Grant has been accused of sexual assault after it was made public that he lost a court case for harassing a woman in the Dota 2 scene.
Some of you might not have been around, some may have since forgotten all about it when in circa 2016 an up-and-coming caster was actively pursued by Grant and his viewers in bullying and harassment.
The entire recap can be found below and as a manager for a team at that time, a witness to and in close contact with the victim, I can personally attest to what unfolded.
Fast Forward. What ensued after was Llama's disappearance from the scene and Grants rise through the ranks of Dota 2 talent.
Most in Grant's circle knew of at least the court case (and dare I say out loud, even supported him in it via affidavits or financial means). They knew about his less-than-desirable behaviors (how could they not, many incidents occurred in plain sight at events, on streams, or in chat rooms).
The Dota 2 community of ancillary staff and stakeholders is vast. The circles are bigger than just the upfront talents, players, and managers. There are many more key players behind the scenes and those within the support system are well informed.
Many never forgot and would discuss every time he climbed a new rung of the ladder. Many would comment or share old or new stories that reflected poor character, bigoted, misogynistic, or racist tendencies. Most chose to never publically voice them for one reason or another -- mostly due to careers, hopes, or beliefs in one to change.
But with the conclusion of Llama's court case just a few months ago and the willingness of one person to be an ally and voice, the door was pushed open a bit. A bit. But it was enough. It was enough to bring out even more dark secrets.
It should be noted that although many knew of or experienced uncomfortable or negative interactions or encounters with Grant many did not realize the depths of what had transpired or would come to light.
It is doubtful that when Scant and those of us that supported him, knew what lay hidden still. Until it was shoved into the light.
This.is.not.okay. These things are happening. And while women are being pushed out of the scene, abused, harassed, or discriminated against, others are riding high on their walk of fame instead of taking a walk of shame.
Tearing it down
This is not cancel culture. This is about holding people accountable for their actions. It is about stopping this from happening and not allowing more victims from him or anyone else that might think that they can get away with it.
Grant has issued a statement of apology and intention to retire from Dota 2 and esports.
Evil Geniuses has terminated their contract with him.
It is a start, but it doesn't end there. He is not the only one sitting behind that door. Dota 2 has multiple skeletons and secrets that are not shared with the public yet.
Ways you can help
- Use your platform in a positive and open way to encourage discussion and educate others
- Be a voice for those that can't use theirs
- Be an ally and willing to listen and learn for your sake and the sake of others
But most of all.... don't be part of the problem. Call out when you see something, speak up. Don't victim shame. It starts with the small stuff!
Don't be surprised if in the upcoming weeks there are more reveals about your favorite caster, player or organization. And don't ever give up the fight!