An important aspect about South Korean gaming culture are so-called PC-Bangs. PC-Bangs, literally translated “computer rooms”, may seem similar to internet cafes, but are mostly used for gaming. Contrary to the common prejudice of gamers sitting in their rooms all alone, many gamers meet up for multiplayer games in those facilities. Since the hourly fares are relatively low, they established as a popular social meeting place, especially among young gamers. Around 30 percent of gamers stated that they visited PC bangs.
Another reason for the rise of eSports was the governmental support: While major technological companies started to finance the coaching of professional gamers, the KeSPA, the Korea e-Sports Association, was funded in 2000, supporting eSports in the country and even building the world’s first eSport stadium in 2005. Focusing on multiplayer computer games, two games that are particularly popular among pro gamers are StarCraft and League of Legends. As of August 2019, the leading eSports player in South Korea was Lee Sang Hyeok, going by the ID “Faker”, who won a total price money of over 1.2 million U.S. dollars in League of Legends tournaments. The figure excludes other sources of income, such as sponsorships.
But not only pro gamers are worth looking into: South Korea has a relatively high share of gamers. According to a survey, around 59 percent of South Koreans aged between 10 and 65 years old reported that they played mobile games. Mobile games are on the rise for both casual, as well as more serious players in South Korea and the trend does not seem to fade anytime soon, given the deeply rooted gaming culture as well as the high smartphone ownership rate.
Nevertheless, due to the high rate of gaming addiction, especially among young people, the government is introducing regulations that aim to protect the youth. One of those regulations is the Shutdown Law that was introduced in 2011: it forbids children under the age of sixteen to play online video games between midnight and 6am. Most gamers seem to approve these restrictions. A survey in 2018 found that only around 32 percent of gamers thought the restrictions should be more relaxed, while around 30 percent even urged for stricter restrictions.