“Oh, no, I wouldn’t describe myself as ‘hardcore,’” clarifies Seung ‘SeungLee’ Lee, assistant manager at Outback Steakhouse and self-styled hardcore gamer. “Really, attempting to use words at all is an insult. My love for gaming goes beyond something that can be expressed, or even understood: I like to think of it as a force of nature, alongside gravity or Bethesda’s creation engine. Referring to it as ‘hardcore’ is like calling the sun ‘lukewarm.’ Hold on for one second.”
Patiently, we wait as Seung Lee turns back to his game, shifting seamlessly from interviewee to elite killer: like a morbidly obese leopard seal slipping into water, his manner changes from delicious prey into dangerous predator, intent on the kill. Somewhere, barely audible underneath the furious clicking and muttered cursing, a liquid cooling pump screams.
“Shit ass bitch. Motherfucker. Pussy-ass n00b. Goddamn bitch!” With a sigh, Seung Lee swings back to face us, his two-thousand-dollar reinforced gaming chair creaking in protest. “See, this is why balancing games around casual play doesn’t work,” he exclaims, absentmindedly wiping his hand across his XXL Dark Knight Rises T-shirt. “Because the casuals don’t give a fuck if the game is good or not– all they care about is that the game is ‘fun.’ Like that matters. Shit, I hate playing this fucking game. It’s awful. But I still do it, because I have a drive to be the best I can be. It’s all about self-improvement, really. Hold on–”
We watch as Seung Lee gropes for his can of pringles, the dim light of the monitor barely illuminating his massive form: the scent emanating from his body is almost fungal. He belches, continues.
“Anyways, games are only good when the same four or five guys who know everything about it get to play each other over and over and over. It’s sort of like a royal marriage: the best blood just keeps mixing with itself over and over again, and that makes even better blood. If you do it right, the blood will just keep on bleeding and bleeding and bleeding.”
He sighs: for a moment, he looks very tired, a man with the weight of himself on his shoulders, and his shins. “It’s a burden, really, having to be that guy who guards the gates. Telling casuals to kill themselves. Being leet as fuck. Sometimes, I just want to give it up. Settle down with a Harley Quinn cosplayer. Maybe see if I could be the assistant manager of a TGI Fridays one day. But that would mean giving up everything I am, everything I’ve worked for. I can’t say that I’ve been wrong now, after all I’ve done.
“Anyway, that’s why I only enjoy playing Warhammer nowadays. The tabletop version, by myself.”