As a technologically-inept girl, I never thought I would feel such intrigue, fascination and heartache following the world of professional gaming and E-Sports. In fact, the whole concept of stadium video-gaming was so foreign to me, as my gaming ability extends only so far as the virtual realms of the Sims, Neopets, and the exhilaratingly wild universe of Shrek 2 on Playstation (severely underrated).
My perception of the professional gaming industry quickly widened after watching filmmaker Steven Dhoedt’s 2013 documentary, State of Play, which followed the lives of three Starcraft players engaging in their ambition to live as expert gamers in South Korea.
The documentary itself did not have much information on the actual technicalities of the game, which made it easier for myself to follow and enjoy whilst also setting up the premise that the focus of the story is not so much on the strategies of the video game, but the social and cultural dynamics surrounding the world of E-Sports.
Being a young Eurasian girl, the themes of sacrifice, age, family, gender and tradition resonated greatly with me, and I can honestly say I did not think I would find any level of relatability in a documentary such as this.
Coming from a Filipina-Irish background with much older parents, and a heavily Catholic mother, I can strongly understand the familial significance placed on religion and tradition. The documentary explored the duties the players felt they owed to their roots and signified the cost of ambition in the digital 21st Century and how this can clash with the paradigms of older generations.
One of the things that surprised me was how much this film spoke volumes on masculinity and femininity issues in South Korea, and I really enjoyed how Dhoedt explored this. With my family being made up largely by strong-minded women and almost all Filipino families being headed by a matriarch, I think the demonstration of Asian gender roles was stereotypical of women carrying the emotional labour (the young, emotional fangirls in the stadium) and the men having trouble engaging with emotion in public settings. There was, however, this strong bond within the team of players where they displayed a good sense of platonic physical affection, noticeable in a lot of team sports, and I thought this was interestingly similar to a lot of Western sports as well; possibly noting that team sports are a universal outlet men use to explore affection and vulnerability, although I am not familiar enough to make that assumption.
I have found it particularly interesting to apply self-reflexivity in this context, and did not think I would actually find any resonation by comparing and contrasting my own life with those of a discipline such as professional Starcraft gaming. Overall, I look forward to exploring domains outside my usual interests, but also, at the risk of sounding like a meme, I would love to see Shrek 2 in the sphere of professional gaming if it does not yet exist.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.
Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self ReflexiveAuto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3. <http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf>.