The Asian financial crisis has forced the Korean government to turn around. The Internet has been chosen to grow, opening up the esports culture of extreme popularity here.
Monday morning, rush hour on the subway Line 2 in Seoul, South Korea, long lines of passengers focused on smartphones in hand. A college girl holding a mobile phone horizontally, two thumbs fluttering on the screen, unaware that the next businesswoman is also very focused on the same role-playing game.
That’s the familiar image of Korea, where top gamers are the idols of so many people. Millions of people watch contests on television every day. The nation’s largest internet portal, Naver, has its own section to search for esports results.
Time after time, Korea surprised the world. From broadband to smartphones, the country also often leads in e-sports competitions, creating organized leagues, well-funded, professional team training, and stadiums. The giant fills the frantic fans cheering on their favorite gamers.
Video game tournaments are very popular in places like the US, attracting thousands of participants. But in Korea, more than trends, eSports has become a mainstream culture. Couples who come to an esports club are as popular as going to the movies.
The 2014 League of Legends Finals saw the first time more than 40,000 fans covered the stadium that was used to host the 2002 World Cup. They race to buy tickets to watch one of the world’s championships. The most popular games globally. The audience is watching live happenings through huge screens, the atmosphere bursts whenever there is a critical situation.
For Korea, eSports is the national pride. If there is a beloved team that cannot win, or win not overwhelming as expected, it will be a shame.
While gamers and individuals in the gaming industry have different interpretations of how esports became popular in Korea, they all agreed to the beginning of the late 1990s.
At that time, in response to the Asian financial crisis, the Korean government focused on telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. By 2000, a vibrant gaming community had appeared, operating in Internet cafes often called PC Bang. The game club acts as a neighborhood football field, where gamers can practice their skills.