“Today, there are more people who play the online multiplayer battle game League of Legends than there are people who live in France.”
Allow that statement to sink in for a moment. If that doesn’t make your eyes pop out of your head, then I don’t know what will. That statement is from Vice, and is meant to go along with their five part documentary about the gaming and internet culture centered in Seoul, South Korea. The documentary also takes a look at the country’s internet addiction problem, and how they plan on combatting it, via “cinderella” laws or by old fashion medical treatment.
In the excellent five part series, the team at Vice go to South Korea to explore just what makes eSports so popular. Taking place during the League of Legends worlds semifinals, the feature delves into the world of eSports, and explores what makes it so popular, the athletes that play the games, and just what kind of dedication it takes to make it.
In the western world, eSports is just starting to gain traction. ESPN has begun broadcasting games, and competitive gaming has never been more in demand. However, in South Korea (specifically Seoul), the eSports scene has already blown up, and it’s blast radius is far reaching. Not only are stars found by companies and then trained to become eSports superstars, shoutcasters (commentators) are quickly becoming just as popular as the gamers they cover.
Most shocking of all, however, is probably the footage on the internet addiction that the country is trying to combat. We’ve heard the stories of people passing out or, in some cases, dying from playing too many games, but it goes far beyond that. Internet addiction is a real thing, and in the documentary, the people at Vice show that South Korea isn’t laughing about it. “Cinderella” laws have been put into place, and gamers under the age of 16 are not allowed to play online games past midnight.
Along with the gaming restrictions placed on younger gamers, there also seem to be rehab facilities in South Korea, although the jury might still be out on those. In the feature, the doctor interviewed goes over his means of “curing” internet addiction. This ranges from the somewhat normal brain scanning, to the curious sounding “virtual reality therapy,” and then to the downright terrifying brain pulse treatment.
The film doesn’t just explore eSports, though, as it takes us through the cosplay culture of South Korea, which is almost as intense as its eSports scene. We also get a brief glimpse of the world of gaming as a means of income via an interview with British YouTube sensation KSI.
Overall, the documentary is a great watch, and I would easily recommend anyone with even a small interest in gaming take a look. Clocking in at around an hour, make sure you set aside some time to learn!