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State of Play

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Steven Dhoedt / 2013

In Seoul, hundreds of young boys compete to be the best at one single video game: Starcraft. As top players earn hundreds of thousands of euros, being a professional gamer isn’t only a wise career move, it is also the path to respect and credibility in the highly competitive society of South Korea.
The stars of the Starcraft league are national celebrities, participating on all levels of popular culture.But what happens when play becomes work? For some it will be a struggle to stay on top of their game, for others it might be the turning point of their lives.


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Running Time: 85/55 min.
Subject(s): Addiction, Asian Studies, Family, Internet, Media, Society, Technology, Youth
Language(s): Korean
Subtitles: English
Director(s):
Producer(s): Gert Van Berckelaer, Steven Dhoedt, see all »
Cinematographer: Steven Dhoedt
Editor(s): Gert Van Berckelaer
Production Company: Ozifilm

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  • LONG SYNOPSIS

    Every year thousands of South-Koreans flock to the game stadiums in Seoul to watch the Pro League, a live sports event where professional gamers compete to be the best at one single video game: Starcraft.

    It’s a title many young South Koreans dream of. The game itself is more than a decade old, almost ancient in the fast developing world of video games, but in South Korea it has become a national past-time. Like most spectator sports, this world of eSports rapidly evolved in a multi-million dollar business.

    The stars of the Starcraft league are national celebrities, participating on all levels of popular culture. 24hr TVnetworks devote entire theme shows to a single player, while teenage girls from Seoul devote their entire teenage life to the fan club of their favourite gaming star.

    As top players earn hundreds of thousands of euros, being a Starcraft player isn’t only a wise career move, it is also the path to respect and credibility in the highly competitive society of South Korea.They are envied and admired because they do what they love and make a lot of money doing so.

    Unfortunately few people realise these gamers live a spartan life of training and competition – just as any other professional athlete. However, a series of radical events has broken the status quo of the Korean eSports scene. First there was the match-fixing scandal, where several high profile players were caught losing games in exchange for money.

    Soon after that, Starcraft II, a follow-up to the game was released. New players entered the scene and brand new tournaments were established. As eSports finally became global, the South-Korean professional gaming scene faced a clear-cut choice: adapt or perish.

    In this story, we follow 3 characters in different stages of their career as a Pro-Gamer in South Korea. For some it will be a struggle to stay on top of their game, for others it might be the turning point of their lives

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