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Hey Can't Stop Playing Video Games

Essay by   •  November 14, 2010  •  Essay  •  736 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,421 Views

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"You have no life, you only focus on gaming, putting off everything, like getting a haircut," recalled the 27-year-old Jun, who was able to kick the habit earlier this year though he remains in the milieu, running an Internet cafe in southeastern Seoul.

For others, the addiction has become all-consuming, raising concerns about the health of the millions of gamers in the world's most wired country.

The habit has even been deadly: In August, a 28-year-old man died after nearly 50 straight hours of playing online computer games. The man, whom police refused to identify by name, was moved to a hospital after he collapsed while gaming and died three hours later.

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.

In this country of 48 million people with the world's highest per-capita rate of broadband connectivity at 70 percent, the rise in addiction to multiplayer online gaming is alarming psychologists.

The number of counseling sessions for game addiction quadrupled last year, the government says. There were 8,978 sessions in 2004 compared with 2,243 cases the previous year, and the first seven months of this year saw 7,649 sessions.

This year's gaming death wasn't the first such case of someone dying at a computer terminal in this game-crazed nation: In 2002, a man died in Kwangju after 86 hours of marathon gaming.

The latest casualty collapsed August 5 in the southern city of Daegu after having eaten minimally and not sleeping.

Doctors said they presumed he died of heart failure; no autopsy was performed. So obsessed by gaming was the man that he was reported to have lost his office worker job due to absenteeism.

"Such an addiction upsets the foundation of your life," said Kim Kyung-bin, a Seoul psychiatrist who counsels gaming addicts.

'I do it to win'

One of Kim's patients, a high school student, would leave his house and not come back for weeks, practically living in Internet cafes playing games, Kim said.

Computer games can also be a path to big rewards. Three cable channels are devoted to broadcasting game matches and a total of 4.5 billion won ($4.4 million) is given out as prize money in competitions each year.

Even the government is embracing electronic sports, or "E-sports," funding construction

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