October 30, 2012

StarCraft: Addiction, Cheating, And The Dark Side (Part 6)

I have been talking about how good StarCraft has been for the Korean people. There is still the dark side to contemplate, for every up there is a down. In South Korea, one of the downs to being a professional StarCraft player is spending hours daily training or working on his game to keep his scores up. I say “his” here because the sport is highly male dominated.

Teams of professional players live in barracks style housing and train for 10 hours a day. I watched videos of these professionals at work and they have to do up to complete 300 actions per minute. That essentially means that the professional player is making 5 moves every second. Maintaining that speed during a match takes a lot of precision and practice.

This may seem obsessive or even addictive, but it is required to become, and stay a professional. I have known people who have been addicted to video games before. If you are reading this you probably have known a game addict, or at least heard of them. One of my former roommates was addicted to First Person Shooters. He would stay up very late and play video games. Then he would sleep in late and not be able to function at his job or in his classes. He eventually was fired from his job I only speculate that this was part of the reason he was let go because I worked the same job. It was a miserable place to be and happiness died at that location. After that, though, he continued with the video games and would skip class to keep playing. He eventually left school due to poor grades. He was, addicted and obsessed, and since then we have lost touch. I hope he is doing well now

Another much closer friend of mine plays World of Warcraft, and he was spending what seemed to me as a non-gamer a lot of time playing WoW. As a friend I was concerned because I had heard of people becoming addicted and obsessed with this video game, eventually doing what my former roommate did and leaving school.

I shared my fears with him, and he explained that he only spent a couple of hours a night playing and this was not an issue. Seeing I was not satisfied with his answer, he went on to explain that if he plays WoW for 2-3 hours a day that the cost of playing is much cheaper than other activities.

For example, going to the movies easily can cost a person $10 an hour between the ticket and snacks. Driving anywhere is going to cost at least $10, with gas at its current price.

Even after he explained all of thiss there still is a still a problem with people who get addicted to video games and let it control their life. There are even worse examples of people being so addicted that they die in a PC Bang. A 19-year-old Korean died shortly after I first came to Korea. He allegedly played a video game for 12 hours, and then collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital, but sadly, the doctors could not save him.

After this incident laws have been passed to protect children and younger players. There are different age limits, but teens have a midnight curfew as far as I am aware. There is a newer law that requires pre-teens to be out of a PC Bang by 11pm. Another law that was passed is that a PC Bang cannot be within 200 meters of a school.

A different problem is with players intentionally losing games. Betting websites were contacting professional players and getting them to agree to lose the games on purpose. They were allegedly taking money to lose the games. The online gaming community has compared this to the 1919 Black Sox scandal, in which the World Series was thrown by Chicago White Sox players for money.

The Bad: too much of a good thing can ruin your life and potentially kill you.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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