Foreigners in StarCraft


This may be funny to some people, but in the gameplay of StarCraft, anyone who is not Korean is considered a “foreigner.” While video games usually seem to transcend race, culture, and language, StarCraft somehow does not. Even though it was developed by an American company, it is not considered an American product. And StarCraft is considered a global e-sport, but still the compartmentalizing continues.

The term “foreigner” will refer to anyone playing StarCraft who isn’t Korean. To be specific, it’s really just referring to the international community. Even though StarCraft has a huge fan base in China, even the Chinese gamers are referred to as foreigners.



In the beginning of StarCraft, the infrastructure on a technical level was different between nations. Gaming is expensive to put it mildly, especially if you are playing on But the way that South Korea is set up made it easier for South Koreans to improve their game skills faster than other countries. And, as is stated in my other post, the financial crisis in Korea really freed up a lot of time for people. This time and ability let Korea become the world leader in StarCraft. They were really the ones to get really serious about it, start tournaments, and pro-leagues. This has set them ahead of other gamers in the world.

Elsewhere in the World

Since most of the western world thinks that video games are entirely for leisure, there were some pretty restricted subgroups that covered and organized StarCraft tournaments who actually could connect with language. There weren’t really any offline tournaments and only a few online tournaments. The European portals had coverage of the Korean tournaments online, but still weren’t having their own tournaments.

World Games

The World Cyber Games took place in Seoul for the first time in the year 2000. The tournament was set up like the Olympics, but instead with a focus on e-sports instead of physical sports. The tournament really only had the best three Korean professionals duking it out in StarCraft, leaving the rest of the world just watching from the sidelines. Since the Koreans all spoke a similar language, it was easy to go from there to set up the pro-teams, but this again excluded the rest of the world.



The World Gaming Tour then created one of the biggest leg-ups to foreigners on the European database. Finally, casual players had somewhere they could go to in order to train and compete. The war portal was also created, increasing a sense of competition between all of the little subgroupings.


Really it was that Korean had started the international circuit of StarCraft that made them the go-to people and reigning champions of the game. Since they were the first on the scene for the world games, and the only players were Korean, they took control. Yes, the game is American, but it was not embraced here the same way it was embraced in Korea. If it had been, perhaps the cultural feelings would have been quite different. But as it stands, the game really belongs to South Korea, no matter who had originally built it. For this reason, in the gaming community, the players are labeled as Koreans or Foreigners. In StarCraft you are either Korean or not.

Where you are from doesn’t matter. It only mattes that you are not Korean. Being Korean in StarCraft gives you a badge of honor, showing that where you come from the game is taken very seriously. The StarCraft world knows that people literally train in South Korea in order to become professional e-gamers. And really, that set-up doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. So I am happy being a Foreigner in StarCraft, while I know that many of my fellow gamers really are not.

Females in gaming


While we are living in the 21st century, some practices we are maintaining are very much outdated. One of which that has personally affected me, and frankly still does, is the sexism that is running rampant in gaming communities. While it is a stereotype that gamer guys only game because they can’t get girlfriends, they don’t want women in their gaming communities either. Perhaps these guys just want nothing to do with women in any part of their lives. But, I digress.


Let’s get some statistics out of the way. How many women are even in the gaming community to begin with? Well males account for 70% of online gamers and viewers. So yes, they are the majority. But think of it this way: women account for the other 30%. That is not a number to sniffle at; that is a huge amount of gamers around the world.


Female Pro-Gamers

Let’s be honest, there are just not a lot of female professional gamers out there. But they do exist. “Mystik,” also known as American Katherine Gunn for Halo: Reach and “Scarlett,” Canadian SaschaHostyn for StarCraft II, have earned well over $100,000 in prize winnings each. Female viewership in gaming bumped from 15 to 30% in 2013, showing a massive growth. But even then, pro female gamers are even more of a minority. There aren’t even female professionals League of Legends players in all of North America.

The pro gaming community gets a lot of flak for sexism. The low numbers can be explained with the sexist marketing strategies, encouraging men from 21 to 34, but essentially ignoring potential female gamers altogether.


Now one of the most irritating and sexist things about video games is the characters. There are few female protagonists and when there are females present, it’s more of a “damsel in distress” situation. Think back to good old Super Mario Bros. Who were the plumbers desperately trying to rescue? Princess Peach. Poor, sweet, defenseless Princess Peach. Were there any female protagonist options? No. It was a simple game, not a lot of options, but really it set the stage and provided a template so to speak of how mission gaming should go.


Back to my statistics. If you look across all of the major gaming platforms, from Blizzard to Microsoft, playable female protagonists only make up for 9% of any of the games. While there are some 35 or more games that offer the choice between male or female protagonists, only one of those games actually marketed that it had a female protagonist option.



Let’s be clear, games really only provide stories that are centered on men, rarely women, and they are continually reinforcing the idea that female experiences are not as fun or worthy as a male experience. I’m sure the gaming companies are thinking of their male gamers who they have already targeted, but they are leaving out a substantial portion of potential gamer possibility. Women don’t always want to play male story lines. And female storylines don’t have to be “women’s issues.” We want to fight and play, but it would be nice to have the storylines be more realistic for how we would perceive the world.

It would be nice to have some representation that what’s between my legs has no effect on how I play a game or makes me less marketable. Because we are marketable. Women make up for more than half the world. But no women are at the helm for gaming publishers. We are blocked out of the gaming industry and have zero control over it. Sexism is still here, it just wears a different mask.