Why did StarCraft become so popular in Korea?

Posted by Mattias "Lord_of_Chaos" Ylander at 18 December 2008 13:52

A two year old article, republished a few days ago goes indepth on why gaming looks like it does today in South Korea. Naturally this has some focus on our StarCraft: Brood War. Written by a more mainstream western gaming journalist it gives us hardcore StarCraft players an interesting oustide-in perspective.

"Impossible, because the man on the stage is on Korean television almost every day. He is about to sit down and play what is close to becoming Korea’s national sport: Starcraft. His name is Lee Yunyeol, or in game [RED]NaDa Terran. He is The Champion." The author launches himself right into the, for us, essential part, StarCraft. The amazement from a person facing this phenomena for the first time is both interesting and funny for us, who has come to know and love this gaming world. He does however quickly start analysing how this could happen in South Korea, and South Korea alone.

The article explains that, with a widely expanded and early built broadband network gaming in Korea has to be online. Online gaming has become the Koreans way to express themselves and stand out in a society where everything strives for uniformity. Socialising in front of the computer has become the norm, where Internet Cafés are social hot spots. It has become common to celebrate online achievements in games like Lineage II very much offline. Today, gaming in Korea is mainstream. TV channels show computer game matches just the way they do for normal sports.

"Despite critical acclaim, Half-Life 2 sold only moderately, and other games, such as the Knights of the Old Republic and other Bioware titles, have to be ordered from the US, or pirated." Could this be because they lack just that which has attracted the Koreans to other games? They don't have any competitive scene, and it is very hard to socialise through games like these. In Korea, single player and offline games have a hard time to become big.

Further, many other games have problems establishing here due to very restrictive censorship against games percieved as too violent. GTA 3 was made illegal, and Counter Strike Source was stopped by licensing troubles. Further, old trade restrictions with Japan made consoles traditionally hard to come by making the PC the natural gaming machine. Basicly Blizzard is the only western gaming company that has a strong foothold in Korea today.

The article goes very indepth on what made gaming to what it is today in Korea. It brings up why certain games succeeded in Korea, and while others did not. It goes through both the positive and negative aspects of the South Korean gaming world.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Source


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