I didn’t Know Professional Gaming Was A Thing

According to Ellis et al, Autoethnography is an approach we take to writing where we describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand a cultural experience. Our task is to use autoethnography and experience of an Asian culture.

To be an autoethnographer we need to recognise the multiple ways that personal experience influences our research process. For example when watching State of Play, a documentary film about South Korean eSports specifically centred around the game StarCraft and the top professional players that base their lives around playing the game. The film looks at the journey of becoming a pro-gamer as I would reference it and shows the hysteria around the gaming industry, the fans, the training, the huge tournaments, the money, the culture, the family background and the next generation of gamers.

My experience of the film began with confusion as I tried to understand not only the fact a film was made about these young men, but the fact that these actual people existed. I had heard of professional gamers before and have a friend or two or were really into gaming, but in Australian culture, especially by the older generations, gaming is completely frowned upon. Its seen as time wasting, bad for your eyes, procrastination and encourages violence etc. In this film the gamers were viewed as minor celebrities? There are television programs dedicated to watching people play games, while people actually commentate. I have never been a gamer, I enjoyed playing games every so often growing up with friends, but I don’t enjoy playing games by myself so the fact that these people turned something I considered boring and slightly insignificant into their entire life, including source of income was overwhelmingly strange to me.

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The South Korean culture was very different to Australian culture, these gamers literally had fangirls, who had merchandise and fan shrines. It was a little crazy to me. I found myself a little bored honestly watching the film, although yes the movie was supposed to be exciting but the only parts I found that captivated me were the parts with emotional attachment, like when we saw the teams lose and then how upset they were, or how they had to rethink their lives because they lost a video game. I can’t believe they get paid to do this? The only cultural similarity I saw displayed in the film was the older generations confusion or disapproval with the idea of video games, seen when they visit their family temple.

Overall I found myself fascinated by the film, not for its entertainment value but more due to my shock of the fact that it was a documentary and actual people were living their adult lives as professional gamers. I found myself frustrated, bored, intrigued, confused and a little overwhelmed by the film. It was such a strange experience but I’m trying to not limit my understanding of South Korea purely from a film about gaming but would love to learn and understand more about the culture of the country.


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