I Can’t Do WHAT in China? Introducing the Culture of Gaming in China

A console free world is as odd to imagine as it is to type.

A console free world is as odd to imagine as it is to type.

The most I know about China is that they most likely own me like they own the U.S. national debt. They’re watching you watching them watching you, and they’ve gotten stealth stalking down to a science. I should probably stop talking before they come and get me. But I digress as that pretty much sums up all I know about China. I apologize in advance to my ninth grade world geography and world history teacher, I probably should have stayed awake in that class.

But here’s something we have in common with them (and no it’s not an avid love of Chinese food). Their online gaming industry is booming, with a reported 2.7 billion in 2012 alone! With over 457 million Internet users currently active, the country now has the largest online user base in the world, two-thirds of which engage in online game play. Of course with stats like that it’s easy to infer that a majority of that play is dedicating to PC games, especially in a country where consoles have been banned for 13 YEARS.

Seriously?

Yes, seriously.

Way back in 2000, consoles were banned by the Ministry of Culture and his legion of doom to protect the “mental and physical development of the nation’s youth,”…..riiiight. Of course the ban inevitably led to a pretty profitable illegal market and resulted in a massive surge in online and arcade gaming sales. Because honestly by that point, what else are you going to do?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Well, besides being stuck between a rock and a hard place, the cost of a personal computer and internet provider in most parts of China (and there’s that big brother thing) stops most Chinese from being able to even play most games. But of course with this problem came a solution we don’t see around these parts too much, the über popular Internet café!

Meanwhile in China…..

I’m sure this looks as odd as it probably is. I don’t know about you, but I can barely share my apartment with my roommates let alone elbow room with a stranger. For a minimal fee, people are able to use an Internet café computer, which often than not comes with a preloaded selection of games. It all sounds pretty considerate (especially considering again, no consoles to see here) but apparently Internet cafes are a double-edged sword.

So this is a thing now apparently.

Internet Cafes have contributed significantly to the growing number of young Chinese computer addicts, which is apparently now being formally recognized as a public health hazard. There’s even entire camps like this one reported on in Qihang, which promises to cure children of ‘Internet addictions.’ For the record, China recognizes Internet Addiction as a disease.  They are also one of the first nations to try to get Internet Addiction recognised as a clinical disorder.

Let that one sink in for a moment. Somewhere in China, some poor boy is probably having the ‘l33t’ speak, newb jokes, and cat memes being beaten out of him. It’s a very surreal thought, especially considering that I find it hard to even begin to imagine. For one, how in the world would you diagnose that? Making too many Reddit jokes? Too many Facebook updates? More page bookmarks than any child would ever need?

So about that whole ban thing…

Word on the street is that the console ban may finally be lifted after thirteen years, but the jury is still out on exactly how concrete the rumor is. Of course, it’s not hard to imagine that companies like Microsoft, Sony and the others would be looking at China as a promised land should this prove true, but only time will tell.

As far as the internet addiction thing is concerned….somehow, I want to blame the console ban for this. It’s quite the curious outcome for such an odd situation. China attempted to ban consoles, and yet somehow, this only lead to an over dependence on internet use. If consoles had been banned in the West instead….somehow I feel as if the entire county would have imploded by now. Of course, that’s probably an exaggeration. But only a small one.

So what about you gamers? Could you have survived without consoles?

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