[NYT] For South Korea, E-Sports Is National Pastime

October 20, 2014
Yonhap

Yonhap

[NEW YORK TIMES] SEOUL, South Korea — Top video game players in South Korea are household names. Millions of people tune in to watch game competitions on television. The largest Internet portal, Naver, has its own section covering the results.

Competitive video gaming is now taking off in places like the United States, attracting thousands of people to major events. But in South Korea, more than anywhere else, it has already oozed into mainstream culture. Couples going to game clubs is about as common as couples going to the movies.

Time and again, South Korea has provided glimpses of technology-related transformations before they expand globally, including widespread broadband availability and smartphone adoption. The country has also led in professional video game competitions, often called e-sports, creating organized leagues, training well-financed professional teams and filling giant stadiums with frenzied fans to cheer on their favorite players.

Such excitement was on display in Seoul on Sunday, when more than 40,000 fans filled the outdoor soccer stadium used for the 2002 World Cup semifinal to watch the world championship for League of Legends, one of the world’s most popular games.

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