An autoethnographic response to State of Play

When I first heard the term Autoethnography I will admit I was worried such a big word could only mean lots of hard work. Researching more into the word through the readings by Ellis, Adams and Bochner (2011) I learnt that “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al. 2011, pg. 1).

Essentially a researcher makes themselves the subject of research by using their own thoughts, feelings and observations. First analysis comes from observations and then moves internally into thoughts and feelings about these observations.

My first autoethnographic experience occurred in the tutorial this week ran by Chris. We were shown a documentary called ‘State of Play’ which focused around competitive gaming and specifically a popular video game Star Craft. The film followed Lee Jae Dong a professional gamer, ParkYo Han a school student wanting to become semi pro and Kim Joon Hyuk a semi-professional gamer hoping to make a professional career out of playing.

My experience with Asian is not limited as I lived in Hong Kong for a while as a kid. However the South Korean culture especially around professional gaming was quite a shock. For my first autoethnographic experience I recorded notes during the film in my workbook.

  • Professional players live together in a house with up to 14 players under the one roof. Is this to reinforce teamwork or for economic needs (cheaper?)
  • Players train 10-12 hours a day on Star Craft which is an insane amount of screen time surely headaches and RSI play a part in the long term?
  • Players are celebrities – live broadcast on television channel, commentators, sponsors, fans (mostly women), even hairdressers.
  • Big gender difference – men play and women can be involved but only as fans.
  • After tournaments women line up and wait to present gifts to their favourite players
  • Players have their hair cut and styled before every tournament (despite them all having the same bowl haircut).
  • Player carry a keyboard around in a specific keyboard backpack – tools of the trade.
  • Korean culture is very minimalistic players don’t own many possessions and sleep on thin mats instead of in beds – this was very interesting to note.
  • Following Kim Joon Hyuk when he first is inducted into the house as a professional player there is a hierarchy. He starts at the bottom and must clean up and help prepare meals so the other players will accept him.
  • In Korean culture it must not be rude to sleep whilst someone is talking as there are numerous shots of students in the classroom fast asleep and players in the convention centre sleeping whilst being presented to.
  • Players are high skilled in their e-sport and possess high concentration levels and sharp reflexes which is measured in clicks and keyboard actions
  • Players have limited social life this is highlighted by Lee Jae Dong when he says “all my friends go to school and have girlfriends, maybe im wasting my time”.
  • Father figures in Korea similar to Australian fathers. Fathers questions their sons careers in E-sports and don’t necessarily accept it as a legitimate career.

I found State of Play to be an exceptional documentary which highlighted South Korean culture and the rise of e-sports. With e-sports now huge globally it was fascinating to see where it all began.

Reference List

Ellis, C, Adams, TE & Bochner, AP 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, pp.1-12.


2 thoughts on “An autoethnographic response to State of Play

  1. Pingback: Understanding State of Play – A Collection of Thoughts

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