Why Are Koreans So Good at Video Games? (Addicted or Gifted)

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If you’ve ever been to a place like Seoul, South Korea, you’ll see students playing video games in stellar and outstanding ways at their local PC Bang (similar to an internet café). 

They don’t just play, they’re in it to win it, with a penchant for competition. Koreans are, in fact, infamous for their ability to play video games.

So, why are Koreans so good at video games? They’re good because they approach video games as a serious social pursuit. 

This is more than the US or even Japan. Koreans don’t play video games only for the fun of them. For many, it’s a lifestyle and a code of principles to live by.

Let’s dive deeper.

The Korean Mindset toward Video Games

Koreans take video games as seriously as they do their studies. To many of them, it’s a way to socialize and have fun. 

In fact, it’s a major social activity with people in person or online. Koreans play any kind of video game too.

Even though they play with friends, the language they use to describe playing against other people is akin to what generals would discuss in wartime. 

To illustrate, in the US, we often say that the other person we’re playing against is our “opponent.” 

But, in South Korea, they refer to their “opponent” as “the enemy.”

General Yi Sun-Sin

Indeed, some professional gamers from Korea model their tactics after a very famous general, Yi Sun-sin. 

He was famous for his many victories against the Japanese navy in the late 1500s during the Joseon Dynasty. 

There are some 23 recorded battles of his against the Japanese, and he won them all.

There were a handful of these battles where the Japanese clearly outnumbered Yi Sun-sin and his men. But, the general won anyways.

 The most prominent of these is the Battle of Myeongnyang, where he was outnumbered 333 to 13. So, as you can see, this bit of history illustrates the Korean mindset about video games.

Koreans’ Need to Win

One of the main reasons why Koreans are so good at video games is because they imbue a spirit of competitiveness in every aspect of their lives. 

To win and be first at everything is at the top of the priority list. Losing is not an option, so they will play video games for about five hours a day on average.

Therefore, when Koreans engage in video games, they play for keeps. 

What’s more, Koreans play off of each other which develops a cycle of interchange and exchange. Winning inspires them but losing forces them to be better. 

All these elements result in excellent gamers.

Korean Professional Gaming 

Koreans do this on a professional level, getting paid large sums of money for tournaments and league games. 

They televise these competitions as well, with millions of viewers all over the country. 

Because of this subculture around video games, Korea has the most prestigious in the world.

E-sports and videos games are a huge, bustling industry in South Korea. They developed a whole infrastructure around it. 

Their teams come complete with special practice places, experts, and coaches to ensure they’re the best in the world. 

The average professional will practice anywhere from eight to 10 hours per day.

Korea is a Leader in Video Games

Koreans’ skills with video games are so famous among gamers worldwide that teams from the US and the UK will go to Korea for “Korean Boot Camp.” 

Here, they will train, learn and play video games just like the Koreans do. 

It’s grueling, tough and intense but they return home ready to take on anyone.

Of all places where gaming is a big deal, Korea takes the cake. They have the biggest advancements and the best developments of anywhere in the world. 

According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, their sales growth since 2008 is at about 15% every year.

PC Bangs

Whether Koreans play as a hobby or as a serious profession, they will engage in several hours of video game play every day. 

The center of all this usually occurs at a PC bang. Since 1975, Korea has had public rooms where people can go to play video games. 

These rooms took off in 1998, after the release of StarCraft.

With several decades of these places in operation, they have some of the best top-notch features. 

These often charge by the hour, costing somewhere in the range of $1 USD. Plus, they usually have food and beverages available. 

It’s common to see things like ramen noodles, a variety of street food, coffee, and other snacks.

Gaming Rooms Are Common

You will find a PC bang almost everywhere you go in Seoul. These are social meeting places, especially for school-aged children. 

There isn’t much for minors to do in South Korea outside of class, so a PC bang is ideal. While girls do go, it’s mostly teenage boys and guys in their early 20s.

What’s more, PC bangs offer special games specific to the gaming room or other sorts of discount packages. 

So, it incentivizes people to come to these gaming rooms. 

With so much available and readily accessible for playing video games, it’s no wonder that Koreans are so good at playing them.

Conclusion

Koreans are so good at video games because they hate to lose. They are very competitive and do not see losing as an option. 

With society offering so many opportunities to play video games, Koreans will do it all the time. 

Even busy schoolchildren will play around five hours of video games every day.

Since there’s a whole infrastructure along with serious professional teams built around video games, it’s not difficult to see how Koreans are the best. 

So, if you’re from the West and you play against one, expect total annihilation.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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