Starting out with a quote from Fredrich Schiller, “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays” State of Play encompasses the traditional and non-traditional aspects of being a young man wanting to get into E-sports in Korea. The hopes and dreams of being a professional gamer out-weighing the grounded expectations from family values and traditions.
State of Play follows young men currently in and wanting to get into the popular business of playing Star Craft professionally – a command and conquer style game where an individual builds up an army to destroy their enemy before they get destroyed.
Star Craft nor the idea of a ‘Gamer house’ is new to me – having being a fan of games and watching gaming tournaments. I have encountered groups of people who are organized to live together to practice their skills and achieve victory. However I feel the expectation of wanting to live in one of these houses, to be a professional gamer, conflicts with the amusement and enjoyment of playing video games. Once money has become involved and the idea of hours played on a video game turns from fun to an expectation, because your lively hood and title of ‘Professional Gamer’ is at risk, the emotional experience amplifies depending on how you perform. If you do not perform to the best of your abilities then you risk losing it all and questioning if you had done enough to stay relevant. Successful teams get sponsored and so make money for the people who own the team, this constant success opens the doors for more sponsors and creates a scenario for a successful business. The players become a product to be used, their abilities become a tool and expectation, if not reached then they are simply replaced. Quite the cut-throat scenario, but it holds true with the dedication and work that goes into being successful and to be called a ‘Professional Gamer’ – many people want to have the job but so few can.
State of Play brings up the family expectation for one of the guys involved – Park Yo Han. The conflict being that professional gaming is very competitive, as it should be only the best get to play. Parks’ family worry for him as they question his dedication to his games over his study at school. They question his commitment to wanting to play games as a career, as he doesn’t seem to be all that capable about dedicating himself to his studies. Parks’ parents question if Park can make this transition. I find this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do on behalf of the parents – by looking at the capabilities and personality of their son they question his future and want the best thing for him. There is a short window where people can be professional competitive gamers. Star Craft is reliant on how quick you can be with inputs, the faster you are the more you can do, the more you can do over your opponent, the better you chance on winning. As the years go on, dexterity of the fingers weakens and less inputs can be done – meaning you are slower and less likely to win. Therefor placing strain on winning games and needing to be replaced by someone younger who can make all the necessary inputs.
It isn’t just Korea that gets invested in E-sports. Star Craft who is run by the company Blizzard Entertainment has made many games that populate E-sports in America – such as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. I was curious as to how someone would go about getting into the business side of E-sports. As one may enjoy playing games, they may not be all that good at any game to get involved. So why not create a team of your own and enjoy watching the success of your team enjoy the success of winning.
Popular YouTuber Jesse Cox did just that. He enjoyed the game Heroes of the Storm but didn’t have the expertise to play the game at a high level to he created, organized and ran an E-sports team called the Stellar Lotus. However this endeavor wasn’t as easy as it seems. Getting involved took a lot of time, money and effort to get started and to maintain. Finding players who were capable of playing to a high level, them having the time to play the game at a professional level, paying for those players to spend the time to play the game, organizing a house for the members to live in to practice the game and create a team dynamic, investing time into getting the team into tournaments, trying to get sponsors, and dealing with all the conflicts that would rise. As Jesse Cox is a YouTuber he made a few videos detailing his frustration with running an E-sports team through a reflective learning, questioning if it is worth it and allowing the audience a little glimpse into the frustration that can happen. Called “The Salt” (for a good reason) here is his first video:
The personal and professional experiences seen in State of Play and The Salt show me that to be a part of professional gaming – leave the beginners behind take only the dedicated and committed to the arena of e-sports.