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 Battle.net. 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.
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 Battle.net 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.