To live up to stereotypes

When I found that James of the House that Crypto Built owns a dancing carpet, I couldn’t stop myself from challenging him to a duel. It was such a hit in Korea a few years back. DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) or PIU (Pump It Up) machines were found on every corner. One simply couldn’t afford not to be into it.

Aww, I feel almost sentimental with a flood of memories. Not that I am near this level. Er, in fact, I might have bluffed a bit when I was asked if I was any good and answered, “I am from Korea. What do you think?” 😛

[Added a few hours later: I have only realised that those who are not familiar with Pump think I appreciate the acrobatic moves the boy does in the clip. No, what’s amazing is that the boy is indeed completing a task instructed on the screen. He is supposed to step on the correct touch pads on the podium synchronously in accordance with arrows appearing on the screen. And he is doing a job for two players there!]

From arcade games we have moved on to online games, which we seem to prefer to call e-sports. The Korean game culture has been described as “a giant enigma” by outside observers. Let me save you the suspense. It’s true that we have several TV channels wholly dedicated to e-sports. Viewers follow games like Starcraft being played for hours with pro-commentators’ explanations of the players’ strategies and styles.

I have read accounts of how and why Korea has developed such a unique game culture. Some say it’s about the country’s strong broadband infrastructure. In a general interpretation, it’s like a spiral: people do because they can [technical affordances], they do better because they do more (in the Darwinian sense), and they do more because it’s what they do better. Others say it has something to do with Korea’s typical ‘do as your neighbour does’ thing. It’s a country where everyone is interested in what everyone else is interested in, and where people are profoundly social beings with an urge to stay connected with others – even for games. Or it could be, extreme as it may sound, a collective addiction formed out of social pressure. All in all, aren’t we genuine Homo Ludens or what.

Our ‘battle’ will take place shortly. I hope I can live up to a half of the national standard. 😉 For those who would like to read more about Korean online game culture, I am linking one of the most thorough articles I have found here.


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