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.