State of Play: When a game becomes a job

Do you like playing, or even better, escaping from the sphere of everyday life through video games? What would your passion for playing be like if your game console turned into your daily bread? Welcome to the world of professional online players; enter the high game where loss is not forgiven; watch the film of the week STATE OF PLAY for free!

The computer game StarCraft has left its mark in the history of new media as one of the most successful video games of the end of the last millennium and the 21st century. Since its creation in 1998, the strategic military game set in remote space dealing with the clash of four species has lived to see several sequels and lured millions of users into its fictional universe. It requires its players to have the skill of complex planning which is necessary for administering and extending a territory in a remote world that is constantly attacked by an enemy represented by other participants in the game. The entire action takes place in real time (as it is an RTS: real-time strategy game) so that a great time investment of the player is a prerequisite for success.

In the course of two decades, the phenomenal global popularity of the StarCraft series gave rise not only to hordes of devoted fans but also to groups of professional players who receive generous rewards for their performance. In South Korea, the stars of the gaming sky garner extraordinary popularity, presenting their art to hundreds of thousands of viewers at sold out stadiums while their social status reaches the height of national heroes. However, as they are climbing to the top of the gaming world, the pressure for success and victory increases. Any professional game quickly stops being fun as it turns into hard business.

"We don´t really play for fun. Mostly, we play for work. It‘s the same for other jobs where you have to survive in competition. This just happens to be a game." Lee Jae-dong

How (if at all) can one cope with a turbulent change in one’s life when common schoolchildren become national celebrities? Can a traditional society really accept the success of its gaming kings? Can one live a fully-fledged life taking place solely and exclusively in a STATE OF PLAY?

Watch a micro-probe into the competitive world of e-sport and the no less competitive South Korean society in the week from August 22 to 28 for free! READY, STEADY, CLICK!

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