I’m not going to explain to you why I have been thinking about this, but for the past couple of days I’ve been wondering whether professional gamers have groupies. I mean, athletes get booty. So do musicians. Pro gamers are famous and talented like the former examples; so, do they get any? I turned to Google to find the answers.
Firstly, let’s define the word “groupies.” In this article, I use the term in this sense (as provided by urbandictionary.com):
An individual, or group of individuals, involved in obsessive adoration of entertainers such as musicians, actors, athletes, and even political figures. Behaviors are juvenile and influenced oftentimes by crush-like emotions or lustful sentiments, and often infringe the rights of the figure experiencing the attentions of a frenzied fanatic.
For the purposes of this piece, I will also be referring to female groupies. It’s pretty well established that pro gamers have many male fans (who either lust after them, or don’t).
My “research” tells me that there are 5 main reasons that girls become groupies:
1. The attraction of excitement;
2. The attraction of money;
3. The offer of ‘escape’ from their own miserable lives (another way to do this is apparently by being a stripper);
4. The offer of a potential, more lucrative career change (because being the wife of a celebrity is a job description); and
5. Some feel genuine “love” for the celebrity in question (i.e. they are stalkers).
Now that the Psychology-101 tutorial is over, let’s look at the facts. The information I could find is slightly contradictory in some cases, but it appears that the gamers with the most groupies come from two main areas. The first is North America; and the second is (go figure) South Korea.
According to blogs.redorbit.com, Lim Yo-Hwan, who is apparently one of the greatest Starcraft players ever and has been referred to as “the Micheal Jordan of Starcraft”, “The Terran Emperor” and “The Boxer”, regularly has his car or other personal belongings “graffitied” with little love notes from girls. Love notes along the lines of ‘“Lim Yo-Hwan, I’m yours; I belong to you” and “Marry me, Lim Yo-Hwan”’, because that’s not weird at all.
Show skin, attract creeps.
Minx.cc speaks of pro Halo gamers Ben “Karma” Jackson and Tom “Tsquared” Taylor:
"We have groupies," says pro gamer Ben "Karma" Jackson, flashing a sheepish grin.
"There's a lot of girls around," adds pro gamer Tom "Tsquared" Taylor. "I honestly find them annoying. Because I'm not here to talk to you. I'm here to play 'Halo.' I'm not going to give you a hug. I'm going to my station to play."
"I give them hugs," Jackson interjects. "I'm not going to lie."
Ben “Karma” Jackson
Tom “Tsquared” Taylor
Do pro gamers in South Africa get any groupies?
In an extremely controlled environment like the rAge gaming expo in Johannesburg, no.
One anonymous gamer told me that "we are all doomed to be lonely basement lurkers."
I have heard stories about one girl that does kind of fit the criteria for groupieness, but that counts as gossip, not research.
In a casual environment like Organised Chaos LAN in Cape Town, it's sort of possible, although it's not so much about adoration as getting drunk. Dietmar Rheeder-Kleist was kind enough to tell me the following:
In 2011/2012 we had an issue with young groups of people who would come to OC to “spectate” their friends, but who actually would bring booze and basically have a booze-up party within the Velodrome, but outside the gaming area.
This proved to be quite a problem as we can’t patrol the entire velodrome, we can only watch our entrances to the gaming area.
They were a mixture of people coming from Edward Street or from Starlight Diner, who heard that some of the friends were at the Velodrome. It was basically turning the crew into Police, and that’s not what we were running the LAN for.
In all honesty, while the concept of having a female fanbase in a constant state of hysterical lust running around you sounds cool, I think that in practice it could actually suck a lot. One minute you're getting underwear chucked at you and the next you're getting stabbed by a stalker type, which spoils everyone's fun.
Now it's your turn to comment. Do you think that South African professional gamers don't appear to have as many groupies as internationals? Would they even want groupies?
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