Gaming has come a super long way since its humble beginnings. In the last couple of decades, it has grown into a huge, global industry with players from practically every nation of the world. In this day and age, it’s also not uncommon for you to join a game and hear multiple languages.
What’s more, video games have become a huge equalizer, with big titles regularly attracting global attention. So where are gamers choosing to game at right now? Take a look below to see which cities you should be traveling to next if you are an avid gamer!
Seoul is one of the most game-obsessed countries in the world, with the South Korean community unrivaled as far as dedication to gaming is concerned. The South Korean enthusiasm for MMORPGs has correspondingly led to Seoul being hailed as one of the top eSports capitals of the world, an absolute must-visit if you’re an avid gamer.
Within the Korean capital, young gamers regularly gather in PC bangs—LAN centers equipped with top-of-the-range PCs for friends to play together as a form of social interaction. Many South Korean gamers have also embraced competitive games like FIFA and League of Legends with fiery passion, which then led to the incredible rise of eSports in the country.
In fact, eSports is, today, so popular and influential in South Korea, top competitors enjoy celebrity status. Some even have their own highly popular television channels.
As eSports continues its phenomenal growth, and as it increasingly gains recognition as a respectable competitive career, Seoul will be a name that is inseparable from the industry.
How could any listicle on gaming hubs be complete without a mention of Tokyo?
Celebrated as the birthplace of modern gaming, Japan is the home base of gaming big names such as Sony, Sega, Nintendo, Capcom, Atlus, Konami, Bandai Namco, Koei Tecmo; goodness, the list goes on and on! Throughout Tokyo, it’s also hard to avoid encountering video games. Game arcades, shops, collectibles in convenience stores, posters, game release collaborations, they are simply everywhere.
Tokyo moreover hosts one of the biggest and most industry-important gaming events each year. The legendary Tokyo Game Show has long been famous worldwide even among non-gamers.
Speaking of game arcades, Tokyo is positively full of them. Frequented by everyone from students to salarymen to even grandparents, these garish, often neon-lit dreamlands are considered by some travellers as a major attraction of the Japanese capital.
If you love gaming, you could spend days just exploring arcades and game stores in districts like Akihabara and Ikebukuro. Of note, UFO catchers are nowadays a staple in practically all Tokyo arcades too. If you’re skillful with these highly addictive challenges, your suitcase will quickly be stuffed full of kawaii plushies.
Beautiful Hangzhou is an important city in Chinese culture and history, visited by millions of Asian tourists each year too, especially during the Mid-Autumn festival period. Very soon, the lakeside city might also be a must-visit destination for avid gamers.
Hailed as a hub for startups in the People’s Republic of China, super conglomerates such as the Alibaba Group were founded in this ancient capital. NetEase, the publisher of titles such as Marvel Super War also began in Hangzhou, and over the years, has pledged millions in funding to support the development of the the eSports sector.
The above are industry developments, though, and for travellers, Hangzhou’s association with the gaming world might be hard to notice outside of the gaming cafes. That said, if you are fond of games with Chinese oriental settings, the many sights of Hangzhou’s Xihu, or West Lake, will both thrill and excite you.
Considered among the most picturesque attractions of China’s Jiangnan area, visiting any of these attractions is akin to walking into an oriental game. If visiting, do try not to get too carried away and start casting spectacular magic arrays.
Do you know that London is also a gaming hub?
London has been a major player in the video game and eSports world for years, with over 600 studios in operation. Big names such as Square Enix and Ubisoft all operate studios here. Rockstar London was, of course, involved in the development of legendary titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2.
The Red Bull Gaming Sphere in East London is a dedicated content studio, tournament venue, and creator space for the gaming community. While the annual London Game Festival, held since 2015, aims to make London the gaming capital of the world.
For travellers, the top event of interest is surely the London Gaming Market too. This popular fair brings together retro hobbyists and vendors three times a year so that everyone can indulge in a day packed full of fun, action, and treasure hunting. Looking for a rare cartridge or a prized collector’s edition? Or a poster for an obscure NES title from the 80s? You might just find your loot in what is truly Europe’s biggest celebration of games from across the decades.
A tip. If you intend to visit the market, be sure to look into luggage storage so that you can drop off your belongings before making your way to the fair or any of the top arcades in the area. This will save you the hassle of being encumbered by your heavy bags. It also means that you have the option to further explore the local areas afterward.
5. São Paulo
As mentioned above, gaming is now a global obsession, and over in South America, the gaming hub to note would be São Paulo.
The vibrant Brazilian city is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets, with YoY growth and projected market value estimated to be over $4 billion by the year 2027. One of the fastest-growing communities as well, millions of players live in this magnificent city, and it is home to a range of start-ups.
Sao Paulo is furthermore the home base of numerous indie developers. In recognition of the city’s potential, Lionbridge Games opened an office here in 2023 to capitalise on the booming market for Latin American localization.
On another note, São Paulo is a cosmopolitan melting pot especially famous for its architecture. The city’s signature sights have long appeared in popular game franchises such as Gran Turismo and F1 too.
Visit it and you can tell all your friends, you’ve seen the sights in real life. Hey, you have even driven on the same route featured in the games!