It’s a cliche at this point: Every esports experience starts with you sitting in your DXRacer gaming chair, watching some Dota 2 footage in Windows Media Player, with a half-eaten pizza and several print magazines on either side. Then, a redheaded babe wearing a peaked cap and stiletto pumps rings your doorbell to deliver your VR headset.
GIF via YouTube
You put it on and are transported to a 3D photo-realistic representation of your front path, except in this virtual reality world, your babealicious courier has stripped down to her underwear. Then, you’re in a mansion packed with other lingerie-clad models building a fire, slapping each other on the butt, and crawling on the floor while wearing a wolf mask. Again, this is all standard esports fare.
As is custom for any Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament, there’s a fully-loaded bar staffed by a bartender in a bra. There’s a floral-printed couch that reminds you of your grandparents, but it’s chill, because there are hot bored women lying on it. You find a doorway, open it, and realise you’re outside. You remove your headset. It’s nighttime now. Time flies when you’re watching esports!
What should appear but a group of five sullen 20-somethings wearing Dynamo Brest jerseys, crossing their arms, as well as three other dudes in blue jerseys. Of course! This is a commercial for FCDB Cup 2017, the first esports tournament organised by the Belarusian soccer club Dynamo Brest!
It isn’t so much a commercial as a short film that speaks to anyone who’s seen a video game tournament, online or in-person. Going to an esports event is exactly like entering a virtual reality sex mansion where languid models try to pass each other a stack of firewood in a sexy way and ultimately decide that just dropping it on the floor works fine. The video’s protagonist, who wanders this mirror-universe in a state of overstimulated cluelessness, doesn’t touch any women or interact with any of them. Then, he leaves.
That must be how the advertising team sold this concept to their clients. The idea is solid gold, and it definitely isn’t some weirdly specific fantasy on the part of the people who made it. It’s a one-to-one depiction of esports! Everybody’s first thought after watching this commercial was, “Gosh, I’m now in the mood to watch competitive CS:GO, a game about military strike teams fighting terrorists, and also I’d love to see the latest iteration of that soccer game.”
Esports still doesn’t read as “cool” to outsiders. Tired stereotypes still abound about how pro gamers can’t get laid and how they will never be as iconic as their traditional sports counterparts, no matter how many fans tune in to watch them. The main tactic that esports keeps trying, time and time again, is to hire conventionally attractive women to stand in proximity to their shit. It’s a tactic borrowed from traditional sports, NASCAR, and any number of other male-dominated competitive pastimes. In esports, it’s served up with a dash of self-mockery: We paid these hotties to stand next to a bunch of nerds!
In 2009, a Counter-Strike tournament in Moscow invited strippers to “distract” the players (and entertain the audience). In 2007 and 2008, the Championship Gaming Series hired models as well as female pro gamers, and the organisers duelled over whether the female pro gamers should be hired based on hotness or gaming skills. Hiring paid models to stand on stage at esports events has only recently fallen out of fashion, as more female competitors rise to prominence in CS:GO.
Pro female gamers have their looks and their romantic availability up for constant scrutiny, whereas the dudes get saddled with the opposite stereotype of being sad horny virgins who’ve never met a girl in real life. This commercial manages to pack all of that baggage into less than a minute and a half. Esports is the illusion of a mansion full of hot babes, untouchable and unreachable by a hapless, dumbstruck nerd who’s just happy to be included. It’s a hell world manufactured by brands and clueless traditional sports entities who think this is what esports viewers want, and thereby ensure they will keep getting the viewers who want this, and no one else.