My understanding of self-expression was grounded when I watched the G Gundam anime as a kid. Throughout its 49 episodes, the theme of fighters expressing themselves through their fists repeated again and again. The troubled cast could only find understanding in one another through trading blows and displayed their personalities in their fighting styles. One could notice the distinctions between the honorable George de Sand’s fencing and the temperamental Domon Kasshu’s swordplay, and understand how their cultural backgrounds and personal histories created those distinctions.
I’ve learned that this idea of expression stems beyond martial arts (or anime’s portrayal of it). People express themselves through everything they do. People have their own nuances when performing a task. Some of those nuances are plainly visible, such as how one customizes the appearance of RPG character, while some are subtle, like the choice between trading health points for one hit on a boss or safely backing away.
Professional esports players express who they are through their play, or express a side they don’t show often. Take Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok: through stories like Mina Kimes, we know that Faker is an introverted, quiet young boy, but on the server he has one of the most commanding and aggressive presences in League of Legends history. Meanwhile, Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou’s outspoken, blunt, fiery character permeates his laning focused approach to the game. It’s clear he wants to prove he is better than you in an honorable duel, no junglers allowed.
Of course, the more nuanced of expressions of esports is the mastermind shot callers. Without speaking to the players, it would be impossible to know how much Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu had to micro-manage his teammates on SK Telecom T1 on such minute details as item purchases.
Finding what windows a player opens to his soul through his actions on the server is something every writer should be looking for. After all, real people and strong fictional characters are driven by internal logic.
Cover photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com