Gamers try to make it big in KoreaIt’s four in the afternoon in a PC room in southern Seoul’s Daechi-dong. Four foreigners, clad in red uniform, head straight to a section labeled “Game English Classroom.” After greeting eight Korean middle and high schoolers, the foreigners launch into a lecture in English about computer games.
Peter Neate, 23, and Joel Cavanagh, 21, both hail from Australia, while Brian Fransioli, 21, and Dan Schreiber, 19, are from the United States. All four are with Hexatron, a Korean pro gamers association.
These guys are no run-of-the-mill gamers, having pulled in multiple awards in “StarCraft” and “War3” competitions. The four young men have been playing games in Korea for the past two years, all wanting to be the “world’s greatest pro-gamer” in the only country where pro gaming leagues exist.
Mr. Fransioli took a leave of absence from college to play in Korea, hoping to be a champion within four years. Mr. Neate is already a rising star in the Korean gaming scene, as he recently toppled the Korean champion, Lim Yo-hwan, in the SKY league championships.
“Game English Classroom” is a promotional gimmick for Hexatron, the only Korean pro gamers association out of the 13 in existence to include foreign players. Each week, the 15 foreigners pay a visit to 20 PC rooms in the Seoul metropolitan area, where they teach English to teenagers.
Mr. Neate said he is encouraged to find that the students seem to pick up new English phrases and concepts rather easily, which may be partly because they’re talking about something they’re interested in ― games. By conversing with these teens on a regular basis, Mr. Cavanagh said, he could feel the passion of the Korean gaming scene.
As for the players’ goals, Mr. Schreiber said he is aware that if he hits the big leagues in gaming, he could pull in some serious money, but a slip-up could be fatal to his career. There’s a lot of pressure on these four pro players ― but probably not as much as there is on Korean teens to succeed in English.
by Ha Jie-yoon