October 21, 2012

StarCraft: A Korean Profession And Explanation (Part 1)

Since I am new to the blogging world, I would like to keep my posts interesting and informative for the readers. I have been keeping track of a growing list of subjects that I plan to write about. One item in particular that was rather low on my list of priorities to write about was the game StarCraft.

I will not pretend to be an avid real time strategy enthusiast. First of all, that is not what I normally get interested in. Usually I prefer to play first person shooters, and my experience with RTS games is limited to Halo Wars, or as my friend who likes StarCraft called it, “my first RTS”. Secondly, and more importantly, if I did pretend to be an RTS enthusiast, I am sure that the people who are actually RTS players would be able to see right through my disguise. In all honesty, before coming to Korea, I can sum up my knowledge of StarCraft to simply this: StarCraft was a game and I had seen for sale at the store. I had no idea what it was or how to play it.

As I have continued research on this subject I have found a lot of interesting information about StarCraft. The size of this sport (I feel its size warrants that name) in South Korea is massive compared to the rest of the world. In 2008, the total number of games sold worldwide was 9 million; 4.5 million, literally half, of those games were sold in South Korea. The game is such a popular pastime, I have seen it played on Korean TV on four different channels. Two of the channels I have seen it on seem to only broadcast StarCraft games and give commentary, and the other two channels just broadcast StarCraft games on a regular basis.

In Korea, it is possible to become a very successful StarCraft player financially, and people will recognize you on the street. A way that helped me to understand how famous and popular these players are is that another writer compared these StarCraft stars to the poker pros that we can now recognize in America.

A professional StarCraft player can earn $60,000 a year; this is four times more than the average Korean person’s salary. Lim Yo-Hwan, considered the best player ever, is said to have earned an estimated million dollars. This may be small compared to American professional athletes, but he still made a freaking million dollars playing a video game. The success of Lim Yo-Hwan is mind blowing to me. He earned almost $500,000 a year with his salary and endorsements combined. His gaming resume is very impressive and he was voted one of the most influential gamers of all time by MTV. Lim Yo-Hwan was also voted the best player ever by ESReality. He is a two-time gold medal winner in the World Cyber Games. His nicknames are just as impressive – he earned the nickname “Terren Emperor” during his first dominant reign in the game (Terren is the race that he uses in-game). All of this was made possible by studying and playing a video game.

The Good: this game has intrigued me more than expected, and I fully plan to expand on the information I have already gained and research this topic more fully.

Image Credit: fcarucci /

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