State of Play

Note: Due to absence in week one I was requested by my tutor to blog on week two’s screening.

This week in BCM320 Digital Asia the movie screened was ‘State of Play’, released in 2013 and directed by Steven Dhoedt. The ethnographic documentary followed the competitive journeys of both professional and up and coming youth gamers in South Korea who played the popular 1998 computer game, ‘Starcraft’.

The area of Asian cinema or South Korean cinema to be specific, is a new concept to me. I have never really engaged with it before. Coming from an Australian background I have only ever really been exposed to Western media. Growing up with the internet and being a digital native meant that the world of Asian cinema was never really hidden from me or hard to find I just never sought it. It’s not that I do not have an interest in it I just became too comfortable in the concentration of Western media that I forgot there was much more to be discovered outside of it.

Live-tweeting using the class hashtag is encouraged and I think it definitely heightens the overall film experience. It allows fellow classmates to share and view extra information that provides a better understanding of the film with added context, such as the backstory of the game itself and the Korean gaming culture as a whole. Live-tweeting also allows the expansion on subjects discussed within the film, for example, gaming as a possible Olympic sport in the near future. It sets up a friendly and relatable space and online community that the class can use to come together as one to either discuss, educate or simply have a joke among one another in relation to the screening.

In terms of how I make sense of the film, luckily due to my involvement in gaming culture I could partially understand the passion and frustration within the roller-coaster of winning and losing. I think on a personal level as well it is easy to relate to their journeys of hard work the individuals put in to achieve their professional dream. This translates to our own goals we set out to complete in life which isn’t always easy.

Overall I think the film was an interesting take on how big the gaming industry is and its success to the point of providing professional employment with large salaries for those with talent. From my first experience with Asian cinema, I am definitely looking forward to what is next.

eSports on the world stage

This month Valve hosted its annual Dota 2 International, hosting qualifiers and then the main event over 2 weekends, with a total prize pool of over $24 million. I know all of this because my boyfriend went missing in the middle of the night for 2 weekends in a row (but more than made up for his absence later). I already knew that professional gaming or ‘eSports’ was a big industry, with a whole world of spin-off industries like streaming or ‘casting’. What I didn’t know was that it’s an industry worth almost $900 million annually (and growing), or how seriously the gamers at the top take their careers.

State of Play follows the life and career of Starcraft megastar Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong, shining a light into the intensity of life as a professional gamer in South Korea. The documentary catches the drama and emotion of the players in a way that makes them accessible and human, despite their elite status and unorthodox careers. As we watched, I was blown away by the dedication these guys (even today, eSports is male-dominated) put in – leaving home young to move into corporate-sponsored team houses, training 12 hours a day.

only 12

intense training

But these players know that’s what it takes to get to the top – Jaedong was widely considered one of the best players in Starcraft before his retirement in 2016.

I grew up in south-east Asia, so the intensity and commitment shown by the players in this doco, as well as the blow to their pride and loss of face from failure, is something I understand. This documentary got me wondering why esports is perceived as a uniquely Asian phenomenon? Who are the top players? Who are the most avid viewers? Who are the biggest fans? State of Play shone a spotlight on the fangirls who flocked to gaming superstars – their love, their gift-giving, and their loyalty really tugged on my heartstrings.

Ji Sun


Well, 190 million people tune in to follow their favourite eSports every year, most often to watch League of Legends or DOTA 2. Those viewers come from all around the world (and wake up across all time zones to tune in). In LoL, Asian teams still dominate, but 3 of the top 10 teams come from the USA or Europe. In DOTA 2, which has larger prize pools, 6 of the top 10 teams come from Europe or the USA. In both games, commentators, or casters, come from all over the world to accommodate a global viewership in multiple languages.

While the popularity of gaming as eSports spawned in Asia, technology and passion have converged to make it a massive worldwide industry.

The Original Alienation

I opened my previous post by announcing my non-gamer status. From the beginning, I was already subconsciously distancing myself from the text, its characters and the professional gaming culture. I positioned myself as an alien.


Little alien me writing little alien notes. (source)

“I’m no gamer”

My greatest assumption about the gaming documentary was the kind of content I was expecting. Despite not having watched a gaming doco prior (or at least not according to memory), the thought that I couldn’t be entertained by the sight of people ‘playing’ at a computer was like a self-imposed barrier to the ethnographic experience. I thought, “How am I going to associate with this plot and empathise with its characters?”

I have no aversion to gaming. It’s just something I haven’t partaken in to any significant degree, unless we wanna count Club Penguin.

Anderson (2006) gives 3 criteria for a researcher to effectively undergo analytic autoethnography:

  1. The researcher is a full member in the research setting
  2. The researcher is visible as a member in the research setting
  3. The researcher is committed to an analytic research agenda of improving theoretical understandings of broader analytic autoethnography (p. 375)

I did/do not fit Anderson’s number 1 criteria, which cancelled out the rest. Were my analytical capabilities hindered by my non-‘CMR’ (Complete Member Researcher) status within any level of gaming culture? I’m convinced that if I had even known of someone deeply involved in gaming culture, my non-participant observer’s impression of the film from its introduction would have been positively different.

“That one uncle”

I then realised that ‘State of Play’ was less about games and more about gamers. My slight disinterest was gradually replaced with engagement in understanding the lives of particular characters.

Scenes which involved dialogue with gamers’ family members were moments I reacted to with most empathy. They were scenes which revealed doubts and hesitations about young peoples’ goals and desires. It might be because I am aware of stereotypical Asian parenting attitudes. These are relatively conservative values about family, gender roles and career choices. Maybe I’m wrong to see this from a racial lens, for I’m well aware that these experiences of cultural familial conflict aren’t exclusive to Asian people.

The thing is, autoethnography is about acknowledging and embracing those lenses – racial, gendered, etc.

My growing empathy for the people observed is a core objective of autoethnography. It is a foundation to understanding my own longings and belongings as I connect personal and cultural contexts to my research (Alsop, 2002). Those desires and values I initially expressed were of individualism in particular. I consider its origins the ‘traditionally Asian’ aspects of my upbringing in a Western society that challenged those traditions. I understand the personal conflicts experienced by the film’s characters via the cultural conflicts of my own.

Without the empathy I gradually gained for the film’s subjects, there’d have been less room for my perspectives about eSports athleticism to change, and otherwise, according to Alsop, I’d be measuring the eSports culture against my own inner compass, without “self-reflexivity” (p. 7).



Alsop, CK 2002, ‘Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol. 3, no. 3, <;.

Anderson, L 2006, ‘Analytic Autoethnography’, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 373-393.

Autoethnography, Starcraft and the Military.

I am still very confused on how auto-ethnography works. Hopefully I’ve understood the concept.
Ellis & Bochener say what I think translate to autoethnography being the process of understanding and thinking about a culture using yourself and how it applies culturally and socially.
The first example I came up with was when I went to the states, ate a hot dog a stereotypical American food and how it made me feel as an Australian who eats meat pies. Well that’s my understanding.
It is important to understand that each person has a different view on certain issues and I think autoethnography gives the individual the chance to explain their experience in a matter where everyone can understand .(Ellis and Boechner 2000)
Starcraft was a game I clocked on 9 to 5  with when i was young. I played for fun with friends but it was just a game. I dont think I would have dedicated my life to it . Not with my parents.Imagine explaining to your parents that you were moving over to Korea and advancing your “Starcraft” career. I think they would just look at me , make me recite the nonsense I’d just uttered a few more times.

What surprised me  was that Korean parents are encouraging their sons to compete in the tournaments and become pro gamers.  It falls right into place doesnt it. Stereotypically we call kids who play these games “nerds” but some boys were complaining of failing grades. Guess they aren’t so different after all. If all goes well there is a real chance to make a large salary as a pro gamer.We’re talking 6 figures.  At the same time, it is a very competitive industry in South Korea with amateur commanders eager to test out their skills and draft their way into a team. The emphasis of physical vs mental sport in each region can really be seen.  In ethnography, a culture’s relational practices are looked at, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping people not so close the culture gain a better grasp at whats happening (MASO, 2001)



Reflexive ethnographies are a way of understanding how you as the researcher change throughout your research. Reflexive/narrative ethnographies relate to your research and how it applies. Your research is a reflection of how what you’re interested in. You study yourself literally and this may come from ethnographic memories (ELLIS, 2004, p.50) or “confessional tales” (VAN MAANEN, 1988) and this is where the ethnographers personal research plays a part in explaining the experience. . (ELLIS, 2004).I have been seriously considering joining the military after uni so naturally I wanted to find out more. I do have a military background from both sides of the family so maybe its a natural inclination.

The selection of brilliant minds to lead these teams to victory reminded me of ‘Enders Game‘. RTS games or video games in general. Are there any connections with gaming and military. I did some digging and found a blog titled ‘Starcraft game added to military officer training curriculum.Offers Realistic Leadership Simulation’ The blog goes further :”Amid growing concerns with professionalism, conduct, and leadership among Navy and Marine Corps officer ranks, a working group was assembled to improve leaders in the areas of tactical understanding, money management, and impersonal leadership methods.”
This was very interesting as I trying to understand what benefits an RTS game would bring to the military. It turns out , opinions are mixed, as always. One officer said in its basic form the game is about understanding how to get your troops from A to B . Which positions need defending and attacking. However a former Starcraft player now Officer stated that Starcraft didn’t really add much in terms of his profession.
Starcraft is a game , so there is no pressure to keep your soldiers alive , but in a real life situation there is . As far as strategy games a lot of major factors are overlooked. How are soldiers fed, logistics, transport, ammunition, petroleum . These factors are all “assumed” in games but in reality they hold a real importance.

Well there goes my chance of ever becoming a battleship commander.  It turns out , RTS games aren’t the only games the military have employed to train soldiers and entice new recruits. FPS’s are also preferred among recruits to simulate real life combat and train them as closely to the real thing possible.  The gaming and military industry could form a very valuable partnership if video games continue to entice recruits and prepare them for the real thing weather that be physically as a soldier or an officer behind the scenes forming strategies and tactics playing the field like a chess board.

btw; The Korean Military had a professional Starcraft team who served and played Starcraft but because StarLeague was coming to and they disbanded. Thats still pretty cool seeing as how one game had such a huge impact on one culture.They go by the name ‘Air Force ACE.’

Here are some reads on the topic for anyone interested.

Starcraft Game Added To Military Officer Training Curriculum, Offers Realistic Leadership Simulation   <— Military fps video





Understanding the Craft


This is what ‘StarCraft’ means to me. (source)

I’m no gamer. I didn’t think I’d be able to connect with a story about eSports athletes. I didn’t even know eSports athleticism was a thing.

State of Play is a film about a South Korean gaming subculture. Watching it was an ethnographic experience. It was ethnographic in that I was observing and noting the practices and experiences of the gamers. My analyses of these observations using selective personal retrospect is autoethnographyEllis describes the method as an acceptance of the researcher’s subjectivity in which personal experience is used as a means of understanding another culture.

My cultural identity has shaped how I’ve interpreted this film – autoethnography says it’s totally valid.

Ethnography – observations of the film I considered worth noting:

  • A narrating voice tells us that most people follow the paths given to them. I might be cringing a little because I don’t know if it’s meant to give the vibe of a Morgan Freeman-esque intro to a philosophical narrative. This is just not Morgan Freeman’s genre.
  • The professional gamer who earns a kick-ass load of money is asked when he’ll get a ‘real’ job. We all have that one relative, don’t we – that uncle who constantly throws shade at people’s (our) life choices.
  • This is hardcore gaming. It looks like an addiction.
  • It seems that these dudes (it’s all just dudes!) trap themselves into the gaming life in sacrifice of their education, family relationships and a social life outside this subculture.

Autoethnography – analyses of my observations using personal experience:

  • That initial cringe-worthy line felt like a more meaningful statement as I got to know some of the characters. We see the concern for gamers’ long-term wellbeing expressed by their families. Professional gaming is an unconventional career pursuit, even in mainstream Australian culture. I can empathise with these characters. I too have been challenged by the ‘paths’ paved by my parents’ ideas of tradition and my individual desires which contested them. It’s a conflict of cultural identity which leads to awkward but necessary conversation.
  • Perhaps the uncle didn’t mean to be condescending. I feel like that one uncle we share mightn’t understand the capacity with which digital culture can impact a person’s life. I may not be a gamer, but I am hugely reliant on digital media, and so it’s of great value to me. Older generations mightn’t share the same sentiment, perhaps because of their vastly different experiences with telecommunications throughout their lives.
  • ‘Addiction’ isn’t really the right word to associate with this gaming. It’s actually a thing that requires training and active competition. I thought of it as an unhealthy kind of leisurely ‘playing’, but no. It’s actually $eriou$ bu$ine$$.
  • I don’t know whether it’s right to feel both sympathetic and unsurprised when the professional gamer says he no longer plays for the fun of it, but essentially for the money. I understand it’s a way of providing for his family. But he seemed bored. And 12 hours of training is intense for those eyeballs, man! But he also expressed how fulfilled he felt when competing successfully, and the gratitude he had for his admirers. It’s not really something I could relate to, though.

My autoethnographic experience of this South Korean gaming culture wasn’t about the games they played. It was an insight into the perspectives of those who identified with the culture, and of others who couldn’t quite understand it.

I think this narrative could’ve very well been Morgan Freeman’s genre.


“Your experiences are valid.” (source)

Game and Life

Autoethnography, for sure, a process and a product with the combination of autobiography and ethnography, it helps us to understand cultural experiences or cultures by analyzing their own experiences. Well, I was like “What is that?” at the beginning of the class. For me to understand this in an easier way, autoethnography is writing a “story” to tell other people what your own experience and connect it to different aspects, like social, cultural and political.


In Week 2, I was excited and amazed by the documentary “State of Play” (2013) by Steven Dhoedt. The title gave me a really big hint towards the documentary before I watched. It sounds like an achievement or honor. To be called “state of play” should be a really big gaming industrial country. I guessed it right which is Korea to have such honor to be called that. The documentary is not only about “Play”, but exploring the gaming career by looking at groups of youngsters who tried hard to become professional players and top players in a game called “StarCraft”. I felt normal towards the documentary and I did not surprise about the fact that they were trying hard to become a top player, but more of that, the importance or procedure to become a top player was harsh and dilemma. It was interesting to watch that I felt the same way when I was the same age as who they were. Here is something I noticed and reflected after I watched the documentary:


I feel “jealous” or upsetting about the top player Lee Jae Dong. He was a StarCraft player that made 135000 euros in 2007 and he started to play when he was 16. It gives me a sight that Korea gaming career can make a lot of money based on the players’ ranking or fame. The fans totally shocked me, which I thought there should be guys but instead all of his fans are girls. The gender is significant. Guys are playing the game to compete for the single seat into the famous team and become the representative to join the competition. I was so jealous about the facts he earned a lot of money by only playing StarCraft and had such a fan base. However, I feel upsetting about the fact that Lee did not enjoy playing the game at all during the time StarCraft was overwhelmed. He played for work and not for fun by the evidence that his face did not show any joyful or happiness. I feel like it shows a cultural statement about Korea gaming industry that players focus their practice and listen to their coach to play a strategic game. Comparing to Australia, the fame of being a gamer does not sound big or proud in Australia from what I know. Esport here in Australia does not sound as popular as Korea and it proves that its unique cultures of gaming.


The documentary also made me amused about the differences between a professional player and a student who wishes to become a professional player.

I saw how enthusiastic the “newbie” tried so hard to become a professional player that he attended over 7 times and all failed, but did not stop his dream to become true. Meanwhile, the professional player was having harsh time with loads of practice and lack of studying. I could not imagine how would he be if he joined the pro team.

My Life for Eire. State Of Play.

Opening scenes. Not so fascinated, overhead shots of South Korea, looks pretty cool yeah whatevs however when I heard Zeratul and Aldaris talking at the start of the video my care factor for the show jumped from 3 to 10 . I love StarCraft. I even carry it around on my portable hard drive so i have access to it everywhere. StarCraft was one of those games that you could play hours and hours on end. The story line was great and I a 9 year old in 2002 prett much had a crush on Kerrigan while she was still a Ghost .

State of Play is a doco based on the lives of multiple Korean boys, who have set out to become pro gamers in a new opening of sport called “e-sports”.  E-sports haven’t been around for long in comparison to your traditional understanding of sport. Well that changes according to what tradition you’re from. State of Play challenges and attempts to alter ones stereotypical view of sport and gaming. The era where the human mind overrules the body is pretty much here. “Enders Game” came to mind at first where they select quality minds through rigorous training and and repetitive tasks examining their actions in RTS games. Are they secretly testing us to find the best star-ship commander? The ability to operate a computer is more important than sprinting after a deer for dinner . The era of the ‘geek’is here.


Utilising Autoethnography I approach this relatively new concept of e-sports and compare to my traditional understanding of sport. I play football and engage actively in kickboxing . My understanding, altered and influenced by cultural , traditional and family factors taught me that sport is a game which requires two or more teams who physically exhibit high levels of skill to become the winner but the lifestyle these boys live illustrate how narrow my conception of sport was. If anything mentally being put off something you love to do for fun is killing it. The repercussions are heavier in comparison to being tired from running around after a ball.  Lee Jae Dong, one of the pro gamers and perhaps the center of the shows focus. His life from the outside may look desirable and cool, however he explains that the physical and mental strength required to compete in these sporting events is phenomenal.  Just like any sport , training is necessary. 10-12 hours a day, in front of a computer screen slouching on a chair isn’t your ideal sport , in fact we are told quite the opposite.

These e-gamers, like Jae Dong all belong to their own team , who live in their own team house, eat , game, sleep , game , toilet break, game all together. The training and repetitive nature of StarCraft would become daunting and would kill the game for me if i was forced to play and practice every day.
One boy even remarked “When I play I work , I don’t play for enjoyment anymore”. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

Like every professional sports star does , Jae Dong too has his followers. His supporters cry and cheer for him while he battles his opponents, tearing up marines and firebats with his critter zerglings and dousing goliaths and vultures with hydralisk fluid his  female fanatics can be compared to the Tal’Darim drooling over Dong as if he was the Xel’Naga himself.
One young lady refers to him as ‘hardworking and very competitive I like him because he never leaves the house and he practices’ . She has a crush on him like Raynor does to Kerrigan. Buying him gifts and following him to his matches.  The values and ethics that the Korean girl was looking for in her sports idol indeed clashes with western ideals. This was another world where different rules apply. Survival of the fittest was irrelevant , to survive you had to be the smartest and that’s what they were after. “If you are good at Starcraft, you are a smart person ” (Korean boy’s father).
The lack of female competitors also is an interesting aspect of the documentary.  Is it because gender roles are concrete and  in Korea or are females just not interested in StarCraft.

To finish my first post I would like to reiterate how my understanding of e-sports has changed. I believe that the rise of e-sports is only beginning and may eventually take over as the primary understanding of competitive sports. People, especially the younger generation will be more inclined to be better at not just StarCraft but computer gaming overall.




eSports, Fangirls & the Celebrity Gamer: Autoethnography & State of Play

After dabbling in some autoethnographic research in the past — one of the ‘perks’ of being a Cultural Studies major — the notion of analysing, recording and addressing my personal experiences was not new to me. As a method to understand cultural experience, Ellis, Adams and Bochner describe autoethnography as an approach that embodies “subjectivity, emotionality and the researcher’s influence on research.” By doing so, this methodology helps to “facilitate understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders”, and whilst watching State of Play, I was undeniably the outsider looking in.

It would be a complete lie to say I wasn’t entirely gobsmacked when watching and thus experiencing State of Play. I had never even heard of eSports until just last year and I would have never been able to comprehend the fervour with which its community shared.

For those of you who don’t know, eSports is an organised competition which involves the playing of video games — mostly multiplayer ones — across a number of electronic platforms. One of the most popular in this gaming phenomenon is the League of Legends World Championship. The global eSports market spans across transnational borders and attracts a viewership of over 200 million. In 2016, the industry is expected to make an approximate $463 million.

The documentary State of Play follows the lives of professional gamers — most notably Lee Jae Dong, — providing viewers with unique insight into the Korean cultural phenomenon that is gaming. I recorded my response to the documentary, and this is what I found most intriguing:


Lee Jae Dong

  • There was a distinct parallel I found myself constantly drawing on when watching Lee Jae Dong and his teammates compete in arduous keyboard thrashing battles. I couldn’t help but picture them as professional NFL players, striving for their chance at the Superbowl. They mirrored the same traits I expected in an Olympic team. Yet despite this, and perhaps most surprising to me was, they were just gamers.
  • The fan following which Lee Jae Dong and his teammates had accrued was surprising to say the least. As a former Directioner — I spent a significant amount of time in high school obsessing over 1D and may or may not have a Harry Styles doll — I could see myself in the fangirls State of Play followed. I just never thought a group of gamers would be afforded with the same celebrity status as boyband royalty.
  • The pressure with which the StarCraft professionals dealt with on a daily basis proved that the industry could not be treated with contempt. Lee Jae Dong showing emotion after winning a competition highlighted the highly competitive nature of the eSports league.
  • This moment further suggested that even in Korea, and in gaming culture too, gender roles are quite strict. I didn’t see the portrayal of a female gamer once in State of Play. Is this to say that female gamers are not part of this popular culture narrative?

In making sense of my State of Play experience I have been able to heighten my understanding of others. It never occurred to me that Korean gaming culture was so revered in the eyes of the community. In the words of Ellis, Adams and Bochner, my “assumptions of the world” have been changed.

Autoethographic recount of State of Play

Autoethnography to me sounds oddly like a niche branch of medicine practiced by only a few dedicated doctors. However, I have learnt despite my initial first impression this is not the case. Autoethnography is a means of exploring other cultures, religions and experiences without having to be objective and disregard your personal observations and experiences when undertaking investigation. (Ellis, C. et. al, 2011)  I think this is great because there is usually an element of bias within research no matter how objective an individual try to be, and acknowledging the individual’s knowledge and experience, opens an extra element of understanding for everyone involved.

So watching the documentary State of Play, (2013) which follows the path of aspiring professional gamers in Korean who play ‘StarCraft’, was really interesting for me.

starcraft pic.jpg

One of the first things I noticed was how dedicated the players were to their games, which I would compare to NRL and FIFA players who train all day. Their sport absorbs every aspect of their life as they aim to be the best. Korean gamers who would train for 12 hours a day by playing games on the computer seems like the complete opposite to our admired western athletes, however the amount of preparation and dedication the gamers put into their sport, even though it’s not physical, is still as consuming in their everyday life. The idea that the gamers would move out of their home to go live with their teammates who they eat, sleep and train with daily, isn’t something which is often done in Australia as athletes usually have individual accommodation. However, when considering financial and time implications of travelling and separate living in Seoul, the concept makes a lot of sense to me.

The popularity of gaming is shown through the competitions, which were filled with fans who were so emotionally invested in the players. At first I was unable to comprehend how these fans (who were all female supporting the male players) were so obsessed with the games and the gamers, but then when comparing it to celebrities like Justin Beiber and One Direction where fangirls will wait for hours in the cold just to get a glimpse of them I guess it’s not such a foreign concept.

Another thing which bugged me the whole time watching the documentary that I couldn’t actually put my finger on it until Chris defined it at the end, was the definite and unmalleable gender roles. The girls were the cheerleaders and the guys were the studs who played games. The weird tradition of the gamers accepting gifts of food, flowers and miscellaneous gifts from their fans after their tournaments was unsettling for me. I found the whole concept archaic and the firm structure of the exchange alludes back to the stereotype of females always being nurturing creatures through worrying about the physical and mental health of the players.

There was not a single featured female gamer, they were all merely there to make up the masses of females supporting the players. In the recent events of the ‘gamergate’ controversy this is further example of how unequal and closed the professional gaming world is for females.

The documentary gave insight into how important family is in Korean culture. For example, when Lee Jae Dong was playing professionally it was revealed he would earn 135000 Euros per year which is approximately AUD $196500. Later in the documentary when he was visiting family he mentioned that he gave all the money he made to his father. In Australia I feel that would not go down so well, yes individuals would often give their parents and family significant amounts of money when receiving a lot, but it was so accepted by all of Lee Jae Dong’s family that his father should receive all of his income. The element of ownership is a more collective form of earning for family in Korea compared to the independent capitalist society western cultures follow.

However, as critical as I am, I did enjoy the glimpse into the dramas and tears of the Korean Professional Gaming Leagues which exhibited distinct differences and similarities to western sporting cultures.

  • Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1
  • State of Play, Sept 10 2013Documentary, Steven Dhoedt
  • Mr–Jack, 2013-2016, Star Craft: Trifecta, image, Deviant Art, viewed 7 August 2016, <http://mr–;

Professional Gamers? They exist?

I’m not sure you’re 100% aware of this but yes, there are people who play video games as a professional sport.  I’m going to ignore the debate about whether or not Starcraft counts as a sport and focus more on on of the pro players Kim “herO” Joon Ho.

Pictured: Sport

Pictured: Sport

Kim is from South Korea, where they treat pro gamers the same way America treats pro football players.  I know it sounds a little strange doesn’t it, something we’re not used to here in Australia.  It’s difficult to get a handle on just how popular pros like Kim are.  

Part of the lifestyle is living in a team house.  The whole team lives, eats, sleeps in the same building so that they can focus on their craft.  Kim is no exception, being part of team CJ Entus,  so public appearances seem to only happen during tournaments or events organised by CJ Entus for the sake of publicity.  Most of the interviews he partakes in are after the series of games he has played.

Kim in his most recent interview. Notice the amount of sponsors (source)

In my opinion it wouldn’t hurt to have professional games become popular in the west either.  When I was growing up everyone was into their sport of choice, my family was into soccer more than might be considered healthy, and I was almost alone being interested in video games.  I know most people never grow up to become professional football players but it would have been nice to have some sort of aspirations of professionalism rather than just be playing what everyone called “silly games.”

In fact if it weren’t for tournaments with their own celebrities, like the Global Starcraft League (GSL), games might not have taken off today in the same manner.  Games like Starcraft and DotA are much more popular in South Korea than they ever were in the west, resulting in the 11 year wait between the initial release of Starcraft and the sequel.   It’s interesting to me though that these games are all manufactured by companies from America, instead of local companies making similar games in a more familiar language for people like Kim to excel at.

All in all, I can’t wait for pro gaming to become mainstream enough that I can say what I watched instead of the Superbowl at family gatherings.