Saturday, July 24, 2010

Carl Honoré: Request on 'Gaming' and Creativity in South Korea

(Image from Homepage)

Last February, the well-known journalist and award-winning author Mr. Carl Honoré contacted me about education in Korea, for he was thinking of doing some research on excellence in education, particularly on creative thinking, and was curious about South Korea's high standing in the PISA ranking. My words of caution about the Korean educational system may have had some influence, for he's now contacted me concerning a different approach to his research on creative thinking. I'll let him to the 'talking':
Hi Jeffery,

Hope you are well -- and that you remember our earlier exchange about my book on problem-solving and the Slow Fix.

I am wondering if you might have some suggestions or contacts for something I'm looking into. Below is the email that I have just sent to the Haja Centre asking for assistance. It should give you a clear idea of what I'm looking for: ie. the best way to spend time with gamers and gaming experts in South Korea.

Many, many thanks!!

Being no gamer, I -- of course -- had no suggestions . . . and fewer contacts. I had never even heard of the Haja Center! But I can alway post a blog entry, so here is Mr. Honoré's email to the Haja Center, explaining himself, his research, and what he needs:
I am an award-winning journalist and international bestselling author. My first book, In Praise of Slowness, examines the modern compulsion to hurry and chronicles a global trend toward putting on the brakes. My second book, Under Pressure, explores the good, the bad and the ugly of modern childrearing. The books have been translated into more than 30 languages (including Korean!) and landed on bestseller lists in many countries. In Praise of Slowness was recently the inaugural choice for the Huffington Post's new book club.

You can read more about me here.

My next book will examine how we might solve the big problems of today. To that end, I am profiling people and projects from around the world that are bringing fresh thinking to the art of problem solving. I have already spent time with a former mayor of Bogotá who pioneered a bus system that is now a model for cities around the world; the governor and inmates of an amazingly liberal prison in Norway; an entrepreneur who is reinventing politics in post-meltdown Iceland.

I also want to investigate what we can learn about solving problems from the people who spend an astonishing amount of time doing so for fun: ie. gamers.

Given the South Korea is the world capital of gaming, and that the Haja Centre does a lot of work with young people, I'm wondering if you might have some suggestions on the best way to tackle this. I will be visiting your country to give a keynote speech at the World Leisure Congress in Chuncheon City on August 29th and wish do some interview and research on the same trip.
1. Is there a gaming competition on in South Korea in late August/early September?

2. Is there a national body that speaks for gamers?

3. Are there regular tournaments or events where gamers come together?

4. Is there a physical space (club, cafe, etc) where top and/or avid gamers

5. Has anyone done any research on the effects of gaming on South Koreans' ability to solve problems or perform other mental tasks?

6. Is there a guru of gaming in South Korea?

7. Is there a leading academic expert on all things gaming in South Korea?
If you have any questions about me or my book, do please let me know.

On a more general note, I am a very scrupulous interviewer and writer. If something is shared off the record, it remains off the record. I always acknowledge my sources. I will run all quotes past the interviewees before publication. In other words, no one will open up my new book a year or two from now and get a nasty shock. Promise . . .

Many thanks for hearing me out. Hope to hear back from you soon.

Very best wishes from sunny (yes, it happens) London,

Well, Mr. Honoré sounds quite professional to me. I'd like to help but know nothing about gaming . . . so I turn to my readers, and anyone who chances upon this blog entry.

Does anyone have answers or advice for Mr. Honoré on gaming and creativity in South Korea? If so, contact him at this address:
Messages can also be posted as comments here since Mr. Honoré will undoubtedly check this blog entry since I informed him that I would post his request.

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At 7:02 PM, Blogger KWillets said...

Go to for English-language coverage of game leagues. They have a calendar covering the major tournaments.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, KWillets, all links are appreciated.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:43 PM, Blogger Bernard Hibou said...

The official e-sports association in Korea may be found here

At the moment, the start page is all in Korean, but if you click on the top right to KeSPA 홈페이지바로가기 you can find options for English, as well as contact information on the very bottom of the screen. The English version is not updated as often as the Korean one, but it does contain some useful information about the structure and history of the various online leagues. I hope that helps.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the wisdom, Mr. Owl.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Korean e-sports. But I think I may know just enough to be able to contribute suggestions.

Perhaps a useful place to start may be to first contact the e-sports host on ArirangTV, Jason Lee. I've seen that program a few times. Jason Lee is fluent in English, sounds intelligent, and seems pretty knowledgeable about the history of and the people involved in the enterprise and the future direction it may be taking. Unfortunately, this site does not list his contact information. Perhaps, contacting ArirangTV itself may help.

Contacting e-sports sponsors may also reveal further contacts. LG, Samsung, SK Telecom should be the types of companies that are involved.

Considering that Korea's most important e-sports game is "Starcraft," which is a game produced by the Irvine, California based company, Blizzard, contacting folks here in America might be a good place to start. Blizzard is just about to release the sequel, "Starcraft II," which reportedly cost $100 million to produce, and is looking to start up an e-sports competition, intended to be a rival of the present Korean system. Or that's what I read somewhere--I may be wrong about this. Blizzard is also the creator of "World of Warcraft," a world famous on-line rpg game, as well as "Warcraft III," which may be the most popular e-sports title in China.

The Americans and the Japanese are not quite so irrelevant, yet. ;) As President Lee Myung Bak once noted, the Koreans are still not quite leading innovators in the gaming industry. The Koreans have ambitions to eventually produce a best-selling video game home console. And although they have made popular online gaming content, a quick glance at a best-sellers chart will still show American and Japanese content still dominating. But they've made tremendous progress in a short period of time. And I really think that, at least on the content side, the future is tremendously bright. I am very intrigued by the concept of e-sports, but I don't really see that it has great potential. Still, if it can become profitable and culturally important on a global scale, then the Koreans will have been a major part of its success.



At 6:02 PM, Blogger Carl Honoré said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for the research tips - very helpful!

Bernard, I couldn't find any contact links at the bottom of the page. But I think I managed to email KeSPA through another link.

Will try to hunt down Jason Lee and Blizzard, now.

Thanks all!!

At 12:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Lollabrats, thanks.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Carl, glad to be of service.

Jeffery Hodges

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