Gaming is no joke in Korea. Not only is Starcraft played competitively, but cybercafe’s run around the clock. To this end the Korean government is taking serious steps in making sure that Korean game developers stay on the map.
The Korean government recently announced that they’re pumping 350B Korean Won (approx. $200M) into a fund that’s designed to be used by the video games industry. This fund should ensure that Korean developers not only stay competitive, but should also fund innovation.
Yu In-chon, Korean minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism made the announcement noting that the current growth rate must be maintained if the country is to reach it’s goal of becoming the world’s 3rd largest video gaming market, only behind the US and Japan. In-chon noted that in addition to the cash influx, the government has an additional 59 projects to ensure these goals are met. The proposal seeks to fund the gaming industry through 2012 with the end goal of exporting a massive 5 trillion won ($3.3 billion)
In a rough and tumble economic climate, obviously this is a noted departure from the norm, and a refreshing vote of confidence from a national government. NCSoft, one of the world’s largest developers of MMO’s is headquartered in Korea, and could be on the beneficial end of this deal.
What strikes me as slightly odd is that it took the Korean government this long to actually notice the video games industry? When Starcraft tournaments are broadcast on live television, and specific video gamer training camps are established, this is clearly no longer under the radar.