The idea of a centralized “community” exists within almost every internet niche imaginable, and each has its own specific strengths and neuroses. In esports, each community’s strength is often defined by the people who comprise it: the Dota 2 community is enthusiastic and loyal, the Super Smash Bros. Melee community is diverse and persistent, the Catherine community doesn’t give a damn about what other people think.
When it comes to their problems, though, most esports communities tend to face similar concerns: first off, esports can often feel less like a united community and more like a collection of isolated agents stuck inside a machine that runs on salt and bitterness. The other problem is that even when they do get together as a community, they still feel largely invisible to the rest of the world due to the fact that esports are still widely misunderstood by a broader audience.
If the mainstream could see how spirited and significant and popular esports are, the logic often goes, there’d at least be a sense of public understanding toward the phenomenon, even if it’s not necessarily a public acceptance.
An esports community’s strength is defined by the people who comprise it.
In the lead-up to this year’s annual League of Legends World Championships, Riot Games has released a trailer for their new documentary miniseries called Live/Play, which portrays the League community as a bona fide global phenomenon. Its striking, detail-oriented cinematography and international scale evoke documentary series like Netflix’s Chef’s Table and Red Bull Music Academy’s Diggin’ in the Carts, while the focus on League of Legends’ cultural ecosystem creates a sense of interconnectedness that community members often perceive, but rarely get to observe.
Live/Play is far from the first of its kind: even before the 2015 edition that Riot put out last year, Valve released their feature-length film Free to Play to introduce people to DotA 2, and before that, there was the independently-produced Super Smash Bros. Melee doc The Smash Brothers. All of these films bring life to their communities by capturing a moment in the zeitgeist–recording the oral history of a particular esport at a particular moment in time.
The Live/Play miniseries kicks off today. Watch the trailer here: