I’ve never been that into computer games. I mean, I used to have 128K Spectrum which I enjoyed once the tape cassette had finished its arduous 30 minutes of screeching. I had the version with the gun, which was awful. The aim was pathetic, and with a 12 inch black and white monitor you may as well not bother. You could rest the muzzle of the plastic weapon against the screen and still miss.
I know gaming is a big deal these days, people who I consider well measured and mature still love indulging in make-believe shoot ‘em ups and zombie shenanigans. So there must be something in it. Today I will bring to your attention a couple of distinctly badly measured people and the depths they have plumbed in the pursuit of cyber happiness.
South Korea – Starving Child
This story isn’t exactly current, it’s from back in March 2010. But its horror is still pretty raw. A 41-year-old father and his 25-year-old wife gave birth to a premature baby in the city of Suweon just south of Seoul. They had both lost their jobs and withdrawn into a world of gaming.
They fed their tiny child just once a day whilst nurturing their online child called Anima in a role playing game called Prius. The couple would work in shifts at internet gaming rooms, called PC Baangs.
After 5 months the couple reported their new-born child dead and the autopsy found the cause to be a long period of malnutrition. Pretty dark huh?
China – Children For Sale
A couple in southern China met through their shared passion of online gaming. How romantic. They had a kid but couldn’t leave their favourite vice alone. Even at a few days old the child was left to his own devices whilst they trekked the 18 miles to the internet cafe. Li Lin and Li Juan had a second child, and rather than neglect it in the same fashion they sold her for $500. Bargain basement.
This spurred them on to sell their first-born son, a much better commodity. For him they received $4600, quite a tidy profit. This seemed too good to be true, so they popped out another son and sold him for the same price as their first-born.
The children’s grandmother eventually dobbed in the parents and that was the end of that. Apparently they didn’t realise it was illegal?!
China – Gaming Binge
In 2007 a fella in Guangzhou, southern China, indulged in a mammoth 72 hour gaming session and dropped dead right there and then. Unfortunately the news didn’t report on what game it was that kept him transfixed for so long. Apparently the incident cleared the internet cafe he was using.
Later in the same year it was reported that Xu Yan died in Jinzhou after playing online games persistently for over 2 weeks during the Lunar New Year holiday.
These aren’t the only terrors that have been caused by computer games of course, but they are some of the most depraved. Having written all that I think it’s only right and correct to put in some caveats now that the shock has set in. The South Korean story comes from the Yonhap news agency and the Chinese stories come from Sanxiang City News and The Beijing News respectively.
These are all reputable companies, but in China the news is pretty heavily filtered and in both South Korea and China there are ongoing concerns about the damage that online activities are having on their citizens.
Both countries have tried to curtail usage, South Korea tried to put age limits on their internet cafes (which hasn’t worked) and China has banned the building of new gaming centres and internet cafes entirely. So the stories may be true, or may be a diluted form of truth set out to confuse and frighten people from the “dangers” of the world wide web.
China has opened dedicated correctional facilities for those suffering from overuse of online games, chatting and web surfing. As you can imagine, it’s mostly youths that have been sent by their parents and the treatments used aren’t necessarily particularly humane. Reports of a ‘patient’ being beaten to death in one of these institutions surfaced in 2009. Lovely.
So, in conclusion, the only safe game is Tetris. The end.