More than Just a Game, E-Sports - The UOS Times
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Culture
More than Just a Game, E-Sports
Byun Kyung-mo Junior Reporter  |  kklon38@uos.ac.kr
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[0호] 승인 2009.03.11  
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“If you want to really enjoy a game, you have to play it for yourself” is an old saying. These days that saying has changed “If you want to enjoy a game fully, you need to know the excitement of watching the game”. This saying might be somewhat strange. However, E-Sports enables this trend.

These days there is a new trend in games called E-Sports. E-Sports means Electronic Game + Sports and it’s similar to sports because the winner and the loser are decided by competition. The noticeable fact is that Korea is the first country that realized the notion of progamers and pioneered the E-Sports field. It’s because of Korea’s strong information communication technology infrastructure.

E-Sports, its beginning and development
E-Sports was originated from the Tooniverse (a broadcasting station) Korea Open Starcraft Contest in the Winter of 99’. This contest was broadcast from 10 p.m. to midnight experimentally, and this event ended successfully. It was a good chance that showed the value of game leagues. After that, Ongamenet, broadcasting station which only deals with games, was established. Also other broadcasting stations started broadcasting game leagues but due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure and hook-up systems, they stopped broadcasting game leagues.

Now, Ongamenet and MBC Games are broadcasting game leagues. As E-Sports developed in Starcraft, twelve pro-teams including sponsors and coaching staff were founded and they are currently in hot competition. In the pioneer days impressions about a new type of job-progamer, weren’t so good. However these days, progamers were on the same footing with successful sportspeople. For example, its maximum annual salary was two hundred million Won.

Also the winner’s prize in the Starcraft league, called Star League, and MSL(MBC Games Star League) is about forty five million Won. Therefore, famous progamers have many fans, fan clubs and wealth secondonly to famous entertainers. As of November 2008, the number of progamers who registered with the Korea E-Sports Association is about four hundreds eight. Considering semi-progamers the number of progamers is about ten thousands.

Compared to the number of baseball players registered with the Korea Baseball Organization four hundreds fourty seven, it’s easy to see the popularity of E-Sports. Korean E-Sports spread worldwide, and there is now a league called WCG (World Cyber Games). Since 2001, the WCG held the ICM (International Cyber Marketing) management.

WCG
Last November 6 to 10 the WCG 2008 was held in Colonge, Germany. About eight hundreds gamers from seventy eight countries participated and this was the largest scale of team participation. There were fourteen competitive games. In this worldwide contest Korea has come in first place a total of four times, with three gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. This years WCG was broadcast worldwide by Ongamenet.

Although the Korean broadcasting station broadcast it, the remarkable thing is that there were many foreigners who recognize Korean Starcraft progamers. Since Star League and MSL are also broadcast in foreign countries many foreigners know Korean gamers. At the E-Sports stadium they were cheering Korean gamers, Park Chan-su, Song Byeong-gu, and Lee Jae-dong, with signs written in Korean such as “Park Chan-su Hwaiting!!”. They were foreigners who even knew the game ID of Korean progamers and used it while cheering. In an interview one foreign fan said “I always only watched on TV.

It was a great pleasure to see Korean progamers game at very close quarters”. The most interesting fact is that foreign fans cheered the Korean gamers with the Korean flag. Like the main title song of WCG, ‘Beyond the Game’ it was more than just a game. Although they were of different races and different skin colors, they became ‘one’ through the game.

Vision of the Future
Although E-Sports is a success, there are some problems. The first problem is that current E-Sports place too much emphasis on Starcraft. The subject was registered 23rd with the Korea E-Sports association, but more than 65% of gamers are working on Starcraft. The second problem is after retiring there are not many things to do. Very few of them become commentators, coaching staff or observers in games after they retire.

It need comprehensive countermeasures. In other aspects its market value is quite interesting. CJ Entus pro-game team, held a uniform auction charity through Teamliquid (overseas Starcraft community). CJ Entus gamers Ma Jae-yoon, Seo Ji-hoon and other gamers uniforms sold for up to $520. And also CJ Entus made five hundreds summer uniforms four hundreds of which were sold out in the domestic market in one week, and hundreds of them were sold overseas.

Selling hundreds units of product overseas, about twenty two thousands people ordered. Another pro-game team Wemade Fox gamers released a Lee Yoon-ryeol Teddy bear and SK Telecom T1 is planning to commercialize Bung-ki as its team’s mascot.
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