October 9, 2005

"The energy you consume (while playing) is immense. The degree of concentration and absorption is so great that you lose yourself."

Playing video games in Korea:
Many of South Korea's 17 million gamers -- some 35 percent of the population, principally males in their teens and twenties -- are obsessive. At the 1,000 won-per-hour ($1) Internet cafes popular among young South Koreans, they'll sit eyes glued to monitors for hours on end. Sometimes play will extend for days.

"I've seen people who play games for months, just briefly going home for a change of clothing, taking care of all their eating and sleeping here," Jun said.

Gamers camped out at Internet cafes typically live on instant cup noodles and cigarettes, barely sleeping and seldom washing.

11 comments:

lindsey said...

This is just like my brother and his friend who camped out in my house for four days last week and played video games non-stop. I was pulling out my hair by the end. I didn't want to say "Get out!" in front of his friend, but he wouldn't move from his buddy's side. I was apopleptic that they would both do this and not have any concern for how rude and obnoxious they were. They still don't seem to understand why I would get angry. And just right now they've walked back in the door to play some more. I wonder if you can be sued for beating a PS2 with a baseball bat.

Sammler said...

Life, as usual, imitates William Gibson.

MGO said...

You know, I can believe it, because I had a friend almost drop out of life completely stuck playing a game.

A few years back, some college classmates and I noticed one of our friends stopped showing up to classes.

His close friends went to check on him at home, and found he'd been playing an online game nonstop for 2 weeks. Like a drug addict, he'd neglected just about everything else, and was suffering from exhaustion when his friends showed up. He was supposedly relieved when they unplugged his computer - it was really an intervention.

The guy came back to class after that, but he had to keep himself from playing the game for fear of relapsing.

Noumenon said...

It seems weird to me that this is foreign to some people, this is how I've been all my life.

Would lindsey's reaction be different if the friend came over and shot pool for four days straight? I hope not, otherwise there's some weird anti-video-game prejudice there.

APF said...

South Korean gamers are more PC (Windows) gamers than console (Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox) gamers, and are more competitive/online gamers than anything else. A lot of it has to do with high PC access, broadband penetration, and the costs--one dollar an hour at an internet cafe is absurdly cheap; what else can a city kid do for entertainment that costs so little? (Nothing wholesome, I'd think...) I can definitely understand the attraction: the cafes being so cheap; online PC gaming being free (outside of most MMORPGs); you get access to an expensive, high-powered PC that you didn't pay for, with the latest games which are just "there;" the social aspect of being around a bunch of peers IRL as well as the virtual social interaction with folks around the country/world via chat/etc...

In the US internet cafes seem to cost ~6/hr, which is just too expensive to be attractive for anything more than just quickly checking your email (or mapquest, or restaurant reviews, etc). As a freelancer, I'd probably spend 8-10 hours a day doing work there if the cost was $1/hr--all I need is Photoshop and a text editor--just to get out of the apartment.

While the increasingly immersive quality of video games allow players to disconnect briefly from the real world (much like an engrossing movie), it’s the social and competitive aspects of online computer games are what make them the most addicting. Games like Starcraft aren't like fancy versions of Pong, an amusing distraction--they're like dynamic versions of Chess (or Risk, I guess) in terms of strategic thinking. There's an element of, you're not just being competitive with an opponent, but also challenging yourself. Plus the online communities within these games are often brutally “macho,” constantly requiring players to validate their worth. The sports comparison with action games like Counterstrike is also pretty apt, only your body has safeguards for physical exertion that come into play much more quickly/profoundly than they do for mental exertion/dehydration/starvation (still, in sports you do sometimes see people dying in practice, or getting overstress/overfatigue injuries, etc).

Aaron said...

There is a good video on the terrible problem of video game Addiction - From the video you can see that there are support groups.

lindsey said...

"Would lindsey's reaction be different if the friend came over and shot pool for four days straight? I hope not, otherwise there's some weird anti-video-game prejudice there."

I wouldn't want him to come over for four days straight anything. He's not my friend. In fact, I actively hate this gremlin. But why video games are worse is because they make a lot of noise, take over the living room, drink large quantities of soda and beer, smoke like chimnies (despite knowing cig smoke causes me chronic bronchitis), eat junk food, then all the cans and cigarrettes and food wrappers and literally cigarrette burns on the carpet!!! just get left everywhere. I become the fucking maid in my own home. Then after they've played so long they just pass out, they fall asleep on the furniture. They also shut down half the house because to come within 50 feet of them I need to take a xanax and some claritin, so I hide in my bedroom or just leave the house. Now do you understand? Also, since they don't bathe or change their clothes they stink! And they're laying on my furniture stinking! And short of calling the cops, I can't get them to leave! I have the most self-absorbed, obnoxious spoiled brother that has ever walked the face of the earth.

I wonder if video game rage is a phenomenon as well.

Jimmy said...

I'm younger than msot people here. When I was a preteen and a teenager I would play video games everyday for 6-8 hours after school. I would focus on beating a game for hours on end. Then I would beg my parents to buy me more games. Christmases and birthdays were new game days at my family.

I still play viedo game, but I don't have the patience to sit there for hours and hours. After 2 hours I can easily get sick of it. Its frustrating, Back then I wanted to play video game so badly but I had no moeny, now I have plenty of money but not as much time or interest!

Aaron said...

This is much like my attitude to candy. I didn't understand as a child why adults who had the money and autonomy to buy and consume as much candy as they wanted didn't just gorge themselves all day long.

APF said...

"I wonder if video game rage is a phenomenon as well."

Probably more for sisters and parents than the players. :)

Actually, there have been studies done researching correlations between VG playing and aggresssion. I'd argue--mostly from experience I'd guess--that if there's a connection it's more from losing than from merely participating. Seriously though, losing in any activity can have real-world physiological effects as well as the obvious psychological ones...

"This is much like my attitude to candy. I didn't understand as a child why adults who had the money and autonomy to buy and consume as much candy as they wanted didn't just gorge themselves all day long."

...puts down his box of Lucky Charms...

Sean E said...

Lindsey, your brother's problem isn't video games. His problem is that he's an asshole.