Korean eSports Culture

A Globalizing World, Gaming

Korean eSports Culture is Huge

The 12,000 sell out attendance of the 2013 League of Legends World Championship in Staples Center Los Angeles is considered to be a historic achievement in North American eSports. Make no mistake however, this number is still dwarfed by numbers from South Korea, a country with a population that is far smaller than the United States. In fact in the 2014 League of Legends World Championship set in Seoul Olympic Stadium, 40,000 fans gathered to watch that years final.

league of legends

Check out the entrance video to a Starcraft Tournament sponsored by Korean Air. Now could you ever imagine something similar happening in North America?

Gaming in Korea is more than a past time. Especially among children, gaming at internet cafes called PC bangs can be considered the main opportunity to connect with friends physically. This physical meeting place for students to play and meet their peers is important because it served as the venue for original eSports starts to develop their skills much like a public open basketball court would do the same for basketball players in their youth.

PC Bang

PC Bang

eSports culture is so huge that even among couples, it is just as normal in every day society  to go watch a video game match than it is to go watch a movie.

Historical Development

Many argue that the development of such a prolific eSports culture began with the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Since then, the government of South Korea invested heavily in telecommunications and Internet infrastructure (Mozur, 2014). This internet infrastructure acted as a foundation onto which the the highly connected mobile gaming competitions took advantage of. The government also became directly involved with the creation of the Korean E-Sports Association (Mozur, 2014). The official goal is to make e-Sports an official sporting event, and to solidify the commercial position of e-Sports. The organization does this by managing the broadcast of e-Sports, pro-gamer working conditions, as well as encouraging gaming for society in general. This has undoubtedly made professional gaming a part of mainstream culture and contributed to the dominance that Korean teams achieve in many of today’s popular games (Mozur, 2014).

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Citation

Mozur, P. (2014). For South Korea, E-Sports Is National Pastime. The New York Times.

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