Valve have announced the dates for the second year of the International Dota 2 Championships which will take place over the weekend 31st August – 2nd September. Will Ukrainian team Na’Vi retain their title  and take the $1m prize? Thanks to Valve’s attempts to make the game spectator friendly the whole world will be able to watch online like last year, I’m hopeful those of us lucky to be in the beta (or everyone if it is released by that point) will even be able to use the brilliant in game spectator features to watch, but if not there will no doubt be the live stream, with commentary for those who have no idea what is going on.
 I wanted to say belt, I don’t think there is a belt but there should be and it should give the wearer +6 Strength.
Are video games art? If you had asked me the question 5 years ago I would have pointed you in the direction of The Orange Box. It included three games all made using the same engine, all made by the same developer, but with wildly different art styles. The developer commentary (particularly that with Team Fortress 2) suggested that this was no fluke and Valve really knew what they were doing. Later they released Left 4 Dead and, again, despite the same engine and same developers it was very different to the three games in The Orange Box. The developer commentary in the game talked about art direction and how colour and light was used to direct the player where they wanted them to go without adding noticeable boundaries. Back then I would have said that Valve were at the top of their game and that they alone could prove that video games could be art. Each of their games, from the (two very different) post apocalyptic worlds of Half-Life and Left 4 Dead to the clean clinical lines of Portal and the cell shaded alternate 60s of Team Fortress 2, each of them tells a story through the visuals alone, each of the characters can be understood before they even speak just by looking at them. I would have argued that not only can video games be art with these games as my sole evidence, but that Valve had a better understanding of art direction than nearly any (current) Hollywood film director.
Then it all went wrong.