Credit by Lee Jae-dong trains between 10 and 12 hours a day, seven days a week © Al Jazeera
E-Sports in South Korea, Where Gamers Become Celebrities
SOCIO-CULTURE Beyond

E-Sports in South Korea, Where Gamers Become Celebrities

Enjoying rock star status with hordes of adoring fans, professional gamers are national celebrities in South Korea.

Attracting millions of spectators and selling out stadiums, Seoul, the South Korean capital, is the Mecca for gamers and the home of the StarCraft pro-gaming tournament.

As top players earn huge sums of money in sponsored teams, being a StarCraft player is not only a wise career move, it is also the path to respect in a highly competitive society.

he StarCraft tournament is watched by millions of fans. Image: Al Jazeera
The StarCraft tournament is watched by millions of fans. Image: Al Jazeera

In State of Play movie, we follow the champion pro-gamer Lee Jae-dong as he copes with the pressure of staying on top of his game and pressure from his family not to lose sight of their traditions and culture.

State of Play opens a window on South Korean society and the rather unknown subculture of e-sports. However, this film is really about the contradiction between work and play. Can a game still be a game when it becomes work?

Globally, hundreds of thousands of young players are seriously contemplating a professional career as a gamer. Annually, millions of viewers attend the leagues or follow the tournaments online. As competitive gaming is gaining momentum all over the world, it is time to show the true face of e-sports. This is not a world of gaming addicts or social outcasts. Neither is it a world in which everyone achieves their dream and lives happily ever after.

Professional gaming is considered a national sport and television channels broadcast matches regularly. Image: Al Jazeera
Professional gaming is considered a national sport and television channels broadcast matches regularly. Image: Al Jazeera

This movie aims to show that e-sports, even if they are still in their embryonic phase, represent a respectable spectator sport, bringing joy and excitement to millions of people. For the athletes, it demands years of training and dedication to reach the top. As with all good sport stories, State of Play depicts a journey of victory but also of defeat, of hardships but also of friendships.

Ultimately, the film asks the same question that so many athletes ask themselves; what does it take to be the best?


Source : Al Jazeera

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