Review: The International

Dota is the skeleton of a strategy game, an ancient, extinct creature that once roamed the earth and made its inhabitants quake before its fury and cry at its beauty, buried under the biggest fucking ten-story concrete carpark ever built. In Dota, you attempt to park a car using a series of eleven-point turns, necessary because the edifice’s inhuman geometry allows only half the space you need to manoeuvre and is filled with a million other humans trying to do the same thing. You all worm your way up the floors in search of a good spot. The game is in the worming.

The top floor of Dota is open to the sky. It overlooks a city called The International, a dead, bombed-out ruin scabbed over with fresh concrete barracks whose square rows reach for the horizon in every direction. It’s raining. The edges of the car park and the barracks all have these high, black metal bars reaching up into the angry sky like half of a giant, dead metal centipede. They were installed to prevent suicides. People are standing there in the rain next to their cars, searching for an exit, looking out between the bars, waiting for the game to begin.