Background and Streotypes of Pro-Gamers that You Never Knew About

As I mentioned before, E-sports originated from Korea through the game “Starcraft.” The game was broadcasted in many channels, and there were also many competitions. Participants of E-sports (pro-gamers) were mostly men, and there has been an effort to make a women pro gaming scene for E-sports through Starcraft, but it wasn’t as successful, because it never reached a stable number of fans/viewers. There was in fact a series of female tournaments only from 2003 to 2005, and as one female gamer dominated these tournaments, female E-sports competitions subsequently ended (Wikipedia 2014).

One and only race that participated in the early days of E-sports were Koreans. It makes sense, because the root of E-sports was founded deeply in history of Korea. First foreigner who travelled to Korea to purse gaming as his profession, was Elky (Huckabee 2013). He opened the doors to many other foreigners and stood toe-to-toe against Korean pro-gamers. Below is a picture of Elky.

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E-sport’s stadiums were first built in Korea for Starcraft, but as popularity of E-sports is rising, now we see participants of E-sports  (observers, fans and competitors) all around the world including Europe, Asia and mostly popularly in North America. Below is a picture of a E-sport stadium in UK.

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The socio economic class of E-sports seems to be broad and interesting. I’ve seen interviews as a kid in Korea on these professional gamers. Some mentioned that they came from poor families, and realizing that access to gaming is cheap – they became successful competitors of E-sports by playing intensive hours of computer games. E-sports gave sense of hope of profession to kids that come from lower class family.

The ability that requires of being a pro-gamer is tremendous. One needs to have high IQ, fast reaction times, strong multi tasking and more. Having long fingers as part of your body definitely helps (to reach far keys in a keyboard). Below is a video of a pro-gamer defining the term “APM” (actions per minute), and why these abilities are crucial in being a pro-gamer.

People assume that Koreans are naturally talented in games, because E-sports was originated in Korea. It is a fact that Korean pro-gamers sweep more than 80% of competitions, globally. And Yes, I’m Korean, and I was also once a top player in North America. My game ID was in Korean, and some opponents I faced even left the game before it started, after seeing my ID written in characters of Korean. But hey, I’m not as nerdy looking or ugly as you think of typical gaming nerds are. I’m an extrovert and quite friendly.

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2 Responses to Background and Streotypes of Pro-Gamers that You Never Knew About

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Your own relationship to the stereotype of this sport seems quite interesting. Were you aware that making your game id in Korean characters would psych out some of your opponents? It’s compelling to someone with little knowledge of this sport to see what an influence this stereotype has. I’m curious to hear more about the gendered aspect of the sport. Do women ever play in the main games, or are the games explicitly male only? What happens if/when women try to break in? Is the culture very masculine? Or are the forms of socialization masculine? You make an offhand comment at the end of the post about not being nerdy-looking or ugly. Is this also part of the stereotype? If so, to what extent does sexuality also perhaps play a role in the making of the “norm” of gamers?

  2. graceofgod9 says:

    For the first question, my answer is yes! Also, many non-Koreans even “fake” their game-names in Korean characters, to indirectly hint your opponent – “Hey, I’m Korean and I’m basically better than you.” This actually has an impact and for me, I did use this strategy to psych out my opponents before playing them 🙂 I’m going into a game with a somewhat mental advantage.

    I could definitely do some more research on women playing E-sports, because I lack information in this part. Just like how most fan basis of NBA know most of players from each NBA team (even male players that are inactive and are considered “bad”), but have no idea on one player from WNBA; it’s the same case with E-sports according to me & my friends, who are also big fan of E-sports.

    Women have somewhat successfully broke into this game, as streaming is becoming a popular. Dr. McCullough, you might be disgusted by what I’m going to say on next few lines. There’s a website called “Twitch”, which is used as a tool to stream gamers. It shows the person that’s playing the game and also the gameplay that the gamer is playing. Many people watch Twitch streams, to get better at games by watching pro-gamers streaming online. There are many porn-stars, nude, “cute & pretty” females that attract viewers this way through Twitch, and it’s sad that only these female gamers are known. They have no valuable skills in a certain game; but their sexual appeal itself is ONLY way to break in to the world of E-sports. These female gamers usually stream to gain more viewers (which equals more money), and I’ve seen these female gamers double, triple the viewers of a male streamers that have 2000-3000 viewers on daily basis.

    I did make an offhand comment at the end on being nerdy-looking or ugly. Many people have misconception of gamers. This stereotype embarrassed me when I was a gamer, and when my friends introduced me to people that I first met as a “gamer.” Maybe it isn’t a misconception, because when I used to attend every Starcraft E-sports competition near where I lived, I honestly thought I was in a “land of nerds.” Even the commentators excite the crowd by saying comments such as, “You nerds ready for the next game?” and “I just got nerd chills on that game (they admit that they are geeky & nerdy themselves).” But funny thing is no-one gets offended when they are directly being called out as “nerds.”

    And I was basically saying, “I know as a Korean talking about E-sports is very nerdy/typical, but dont put me within the stereotype of gamers. – because I don’t want to be associated with these nerds and it is embarrassing.”

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