Yes, a district in the Philippines really did ban Dota

If you thought soccer hooligans could be a problem, just be glad you’ve never crossed paths with Dota players in Barangay Salawag

Photo by The Tire Zoo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (remix by Jason Reed)

If you thought soccer hooligans could be a problem, just be glad you’ve never crossed paths with Dota players in Barangay Salawag.

The district, located in the Philippine province of Cavite, has banned Dota from all computer cafes in the area.

The Warcraft 3 modification that served as the precursor to such games as Dota 2 and League of Legends is still very popular in the Philippines, with youths frequently gathering in public cafes to play. Unfortunately, these gatherings have led to some rather volatile situations, such as the one depicted in this video from March 2013.

Things appear to have gotten especially bad in the district of Barangay Salawag. An official notice from the Cavite city government surfaced earlier this week, declaring it illegal to play of Dota at local cafes, and citing multiple incidents of violence and crime. The game is the source of a growing gambling problem among local youths, according to the notice. 

While the document looks official, there was initially some question as to its veracity in the Dota community. A thread on the topic posted to Reddit was shortly deleted by the forum’s moderators, apparently after commenters raised doubts about its legitimacy.

The story originated on a Filipino-run Facebook page, where it spread to the English-language site When In Manila. Numerous locals have spoken up online, claiming the ordinance is real, and another confirmed as much after we reached out for comment. Then, earlier this morning, a major Filipino news agency ran a story on the news, confirming it. The report included an interview with local police captain Eric Paredes who claimed had “already died due to the computer game.”

Cafes that violate the ordinance face a month-long suspension and could see their license revoked or even get shut down, according to one local.

The incident speaks to a truth about the Dota scene in the Philippines: The violence that has stemmed from the game’s fervent Filipino following is no joke. Reports have even surfaced in the past of players go so far as to commit murder in retaliation for things that have happened in the game—likely the incidents Paredes was referring to in the interview.

The effectiveness of the ban and what effect it will have on local cafes and their customers is still anyone’s guess, though it’s possible that it may just spur local players to move on to the game’s natural successor.