SEOUL, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South Korean teenager Yoon Ki-chan gets just three hours of sleep a day but spends more than three times that playing online games – with the blessing of his parents and teachers – as he dreams of becoming a top pro League of Legends player.
Yoon and his peers are the next generation of gamers in South Korea, a fast-growing esports powerhouse whose players have won Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championship six times since the most-watched esports event began in 2011.
They will also benefit from the country’s announcement in August that it would abolish a decade-old law which bans those below the age of 16 from playing online games on computers from midnight to 6 a.m, over a growing consensus that youths are increasingly using their mobile phones instead.
“I suffered a lot from the shutdown law. I typically don’t sleep a lot, so I studied different things during the shutdown hours. If it weren’t for the law, I could have been a better player by now,” said Yoon, who says he can game at least four hours more now since turning 16 this year.
South Korea’s move is in contrast to that of China, the world’s biggest esports market, which in late August drastically limited the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to a mere three hours a week. read more
Esports will also feature as a medal sport for the first time at the Asian Games in Hangzhou next year.
“China’s game regulation could be a rather good opportunity for us to build strength and regain the esports initiative,” said Park Se-woon, vice president at Seoul Game Academy that offers programmes to nurture pros.
Park said the private academy has seen a 30-fold jump in daily consultations