My main thought during State of Play: woah these are some dedicated and passionate boy gamers; woah those are some dedicated and passionate fangirls.
State of Play is a documentary that looks into the eSports profession in South Korea. It is centered not so much around the actual gaming, but more so around the hysteria that exists within the gaming industry: the fans, the hours of training, the huge stadiums, the money, the sacrifices the gamers make and, overall, the intense and fierce nature of the eSports scene.
But, to me, what was most prevalent within the documentary was how glaringly obvious the gender roles were. Men are the talented, moneymaking gamers; women are the screaming, adoring fans. My lack of knowledge and exposure to the gaming industry prevents me from knowing too much in this area, but what isn’t obvious throughout the documentary is whether girls even try to compete at a professional level, whether any of them are interested, whether they just accept the gender norms, or if there are girls out there who are frustrated by the fact that men dominate the gaming industry and they are expected to just scream and squeal for the boys until their throats are sore, at which point they just fall to their knees and present the gamers with gifts, even when they’ve lost.
After researching into the area of autoethnography, it is interesting to consider how my passion for feminism and gender equality effects my viewing of State of Play. Being asked to observe and record my perspectives when watching the film and then consider how my cultural biases and experiences forms my opinion, it makes me wonder whether other people around the world view the film the same way as I do. In particular, do women in Korea watch the film and are completely oblivious to the gender divide purely because that’s all they know and that’s all their culture is used to?
“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis et al. 2011).
In this way, the researcher makes themselves the subject of research by using their thoughts and observations.
So, by describing and analyzing my personal experience of women empowerment in order to understand the cultural experience of South Korean gaming, it is obvious that I am watching this film as an outsider, completely amazed and confused by the industry purely because of my cultural differences and experiences. I am used to, coming from Western culture, people expecting women to be involved in areas that men are also. It shocks me seeing women being completely put into submissive roles of fandom and no one questioning it. And that is my understanding of autoethnography: my experiences affecting my viewing.
I’d like to add that I do not speak poorly of gaming or the talent and passion of gamers. (This is me personally looking into an industry that I know little about: I watch the gamers’ fingers tap against the keyboard hundreds of times a minute in awe). Rather, I am impressed by the gamers and encouraging of anyone who can make money where people don’t typically think there should be money. I’d just like to see some female hands holding that money too.