The prominence of Korean gamers in e-sport doesn’t come as a surprise since video gaming as recreation and as a profession has the support of their government. In the midst of all the acclaim and worldwide recognition received by South Korea as having the best professional esports gamers, a place called PC bangs will always be mentioned as a fundamental training ground for many of the country’s e-sport celebrities.
What is a PC Bang
PC, of course, stands for personal computer, while the Korean word “bang” literally means room. PC bangs actually started out as conventional Internet cafes where people can access PCs during the early days of the Internet boom. Yet they later transitioned into becoming the perfect venues for video gamers.
Firstly because in a PC bang, Korean gamers can play incessantly with high Internet speed at affordably low costs. Secondly, it was more enjoyable to play in a venue where one can be with other gamers. The so-called LAN (local area network) enabled PC interconnectivity among gamers, especially in a multi-player role-playing game. Thirdly, most Korean video game players come from middle class families where only one PC is available in a single home, where it was not possible for them to play uninterruptedly and for long hours.
PC Bang Gamers and the Beginnings of Video Game Competitions
Initially, PC bang gamers organized competitions between themselves, which at first were merely for bragging rights. Later, to make the friendly competitions even more exciting, PC bang gamers staked bets, which they pooled as prize money for the player/s who will dominate or succeed in a free-for-all, real-time strategy (RTS) game like Starcraft.
Eventually, South Korea’s video gaming industry recognized the potential of holding official tournaments as a means of promoting their video games. This was particularly true for Blizzard Entertainment, since Starcraft was the most popular game in the country at that time. In the meantime, PC bangs started mushrooming in South Korean cities as there was great demand for more venues where video gamers can converge and practice playing Starcraft to the hilt.
As a matter of fact, it was because of Starcraft that the world’s first video gaming league, the Korea Pro Gaming League (KPGL) was established in South Korea in 1998. In 2000, the country’s video game industry gained the support of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and Tourism (MCST), as it initiated the establishment of the Korean eSports Association. In the same year, the MCST launched the first World Cyber Games, and from then on, the world of esports took shape and form.
PC bangs likewise evolved and transformed as they took to heart, their significance as the unofficial training grounds for many of South Korea’s celebrity esports athletes. Fast forward in today’s video gaming environment, for a PC bang to be highly competitive, it must be fully equipped with the latest in video gaming and communication technologies.
Aside from offering food that gamers can order right from the PC they are using, there are also PC bangs with exercise facilities. That way, customers aspiring to become professional esports athletes can adopt similar training styles implemented in facilities used by professional esports athletes.
In the natural course of how sports competitions go, major esports tournaments became additional betting markets for sportsbook operators. Although sports betting is not as completely legal in South Korea as it is in some countries, there are trustworthy local betting sites (토토사이트) that connect bettors to online sportsbooks accepting wagers on esports tournaments.