Reexamining the examination.

Retracing our thoughts back to my first post in DIGC330, Come game with me, let’s game, let’s game away, I have delved deeper into the concepts of both this subject, but too that of autoethnographic research. Firstly an autoethnographic recap, for it is;

“An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyses personal experience in order to understand Cultural experience.” Ellis. (2011)

In the first post, I expressed my thoughts and analyzation of the South Korean film, State of Play, which follows the personal and societal lifestyles Koreans  experience in their multi-million dollar gaming industry. As captured in this screenshot from the film highlighting the significance of these competitions;

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One of the many thoughts I have processed since the last post is the comparisons of e-sports in Asia, such as South Korea & Japan, and those in the “West”, such as Australia & the United States. Take for example the earnings of top e-sport players in the aforementioned countries;

Australia (611 recognized players)

  1. Damian Chok, total career earnings (tce) $343,548.24
  2. Denholm Taylor, tce $56,709.57

United States (6755 recognized players)

  1. Peter Dager, tce $2,617,389.18
  2. Saahil Arora, tce $2,606,414.06

South Korea (1665 recognized players)

  1. Jae Dong Lee, tce $611,037.05
  2. Sang Hyeok Lee, tce $554,086.98

What I found fascinating is the tremendous difference between these nations, both in the number of players and the earnings. If one was to think about it, South Korea with it’s population of 50 million people, only has a thousand more players in e-sports (that are officially listed) compared to our six hundred from a population of a mere 23 million. This astounds me, as I knew of an e-sports industry here, but I knew much more about those in Korea, which I assumed were much larger than the figures show, which could be the case, but you get the drill.

As Chua (2006) writes in his work, East Asian Pop Culture,

“Investment in South Korean cultural capital has become big business in the region with Korean online multiplayer games consumed in China and Taiwan. Korean products such as film are now being consumed globally. Korea is also investing heavily in cultural and technological education ensuring that Korea is positioned globally for its innovation.”

For politically sensitive areas in Asia such as China to be open to the concepts to the enemy of their ally, North Korea, it is astounding to see the surge and unilateral interest in these esporting events. It is a unification of the masses, starting not from the top diplomats, but from the very members of society who partake in socio-cultural similarities, brushing politics aside to be unified behind the controller.

I too have thought further whether it was fair to paint the opinions of the gamers elders with the same brush; that is that they do not see the value in the sport nor do they consider it a serious career for their (predominantly) sons to make. I initially gave a quick thought to my experiences within the sports I have played, such as Basketball, AFL, NRL and Soccer, all of which I played over many years, even going to State finals for Basketball and National finals in Canberra for AFL. However not once did I seriously contemplate these as career choices, I was more intent on other passions, but I do know of kids who desperately wanted to become the next skateboarder, or surfer, or even golfer, only to be told by their elders that they should “focus more on school” or that “It’s just a phase you’ll grow out of”. So in drawing on these experiences, I do feel there is always going to be a prejudice by others that something isn’t important or valued enough to be considered career worthy. I only have to remember what my Nana tells me every time the Dragons are playing;

“These players today get paid too much for too little, when I was growing up, they all had proper jobs, such as policemen or butchers, some just served drinks at the local sports club, they didn’t just play football and create scandals like they do today.”

See the mention of proper? Even a revered sporting code such as NRL, with it’s deep history in NSW, can’t escape the belief that sports is not a proper career choice. But is that a worthy opinion? How long can these athletes keep playing for, be it esports or baseball, when do they retire?

It is issues and debates such as these that prove that when viewing foreign media and noticing the differences, that we delve deep in oneself to critically evaluate whether it is all that different at all. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Todd.

References.

http://www.esportsearnings.com/countries

Chua, B.-H. ‘East Asian Pop Culture: Consumer Communities and politics of the National’, presented at Cultural Space and the Public Sphere: An International Conference, organized by Asia’s Culture Initiative, March 15-16, Seoul, South Korea, 2006. (via moodle)

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