Ideas in the Wild: How Dr. Baro Hyun Aims To Bridge Gaming’s Generation Gap
While multimillion-dollar prizes are common in esports today, most people don’t know that esports began humbly in a small Asian country without a significant gaming industry at the time. And they don’t know that after two decades of embracing esports, Koreans enjoy playing competitive gaming not only privately, but also at official corporate social events?
If not, it’s understandable. Anyone under 45 grew up with video games as a natural part of their lives, but older generations have had minimal exposure to gaming. Without firsthand experience, it can be difficult to understand why the industry is booming and why our children and grandchildren love esports so much. Dr. Baro Hyun wrote Demystifying Esports to bridge the generation gap by exploring the history of competitive gaming, the growth of the industry, and its explosion as a global phenomenon. I recently caught up with Dr. Hyun to learn what inspired him to write the book and discover how gaming has changed his life.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
In 2018, I gave a talk about esports at a sports business conference and met a gentleman named Roy Tomizawa. After listening to my talk, he approached me and said I should write a book about the topic. I’d never thought about writing a book before, so his comment was eye-opening. If I wanted to move forward, Roy suggested using Scribe, which he’d used to publish his book, 1964 — The Greatest Year in the History of Japan.
At the same time, I was sharing the history of esports starting in the early 90s in South Korea, and people found this story fascinating because it’s essentially the untold history. Seeing their reactions, I thought I might be onto something. At first, I started out writing a blog weekly that contained nuggets I could use in the book. I did that for a year and the blog became my North Star for the book. So that was what did it: meeting Roy and sharing this incredible story.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
Go talk to your family — chances are, there’s going to be an avid gamer in there somewhere. Maybe even a couple! Their face will light up when you ask them about gaming, and if you enjoy playing yourself, now you have something to do together that you both enjoy.
So go talk to your kids, grandchildren, or other family members and ask about what kind of games are their favorite, then try to learn the rules of that game. You can do this just by watching them play. There are many genres of games, but you don’t have to learn the rules of every single genre. Just focus on your favorites, those you enjoy the most.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
I’ve been living apart from my two sons for work related reasons. I’ve been in Tokyo and they’ve been in the countryside. Doing video calls with them is fine, but what we’ve started doing recently that’s much better is playing Fortnite together. We meet up every day and play.
It’s a great lesson in teamwork and communication! When they get mad at each other, I have to calm them down and encourage them to work it out. When we win a match, it’s a great feeling of achievement because we did it as a team. Whenever we talk outside of the game, we always have something to talk about. I’ve found that the conversation with your kids never grows stale when you’re gaming with them. We always have strategies or other games to discuss.