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Put down the controller and back away… February 9, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Assignments.

The long-awaited Mass Effect 2 came out on January 26, 2010.  On that day, several of my friends disappeared.  

They weren’t in class.  They weren’t at lunch.  They were nowhere to be seen.

I walked the empty streets pondering the War of the Worlds-esque stillness, and braced myself for the end of times.

The next day, I found my friends living out their usual routine as if nothing had happened.  Weary and sleep-deprived, they told me they had beaten the game.  It was a long, arduous battle — without food, sleep, and minimal bathroom breaks — but after 18+ hours they had beaten the game.

I don’t know which was scarier:  thinking all forms of life on earth had been wiped out by an alien attack, or finding out that my friends had willfully imprisoned themselves all for the sake of a video game.

But this is not a rare phenomenon.  In fact, “video game addiction” is becoming quite a problem in some places.  Take, for example, South Korea.  According to a marvelous documentary on PBS, video game addiction is overwhelming that country’s youth.

They flock to places called PC Bongs, which is a type of internet cafe/arcade where they spend hours upon hours playing online games.  And, like Starbucks in Manhattan, there’s one on almost every corner.

Since houses and apartments in Korea tend to be small, these are the most popular places for kids to hang out.  There are even different types of PC bongs, depending on what type of game you want to play.

But some fear that it’s going too far — the games are taking over people’s lives.  Time that should be spent studying, talking to others, or even going outside is being consumed in front of a glowing screen.

That’s why the Korean government has established the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, a sort of rehabilitation program designed to teach children to use the internet wisely and for the purpose of enhancing their lives.

And after Stanford University’s School of Medicine found that one in eight Americans suffers “from at least one sign of problematic Internet use,” it’s possible that these rehabilitation programs may be coming soon to a computer near you.

But, I guess we’ll just have to wait until the new Halo comes out.



1. Another Day On Facebook - February 14, 2010

I am wondering what happened to that kid that PBS documented in the rehabilitation center. Did he improve or did he go back to his regular routine.

friedgreenbananafish - February 15, 2010

I wondered the same thing. I think it would be interesting if the documentary makers go back in a few years to see what became of him.

Unfortunately, I fear that he isn’t going to change much. He seemed disinterested in the rehabilitation program, and kept saying how he couldn’t stop thinking about the games, even while he was there. I think the best thing for him would be for his mother to take away the computer and ban him from going to any of South Korea’s many PC bongs. But it seems such an important part of the culture there that I’m not sure if he could ever be “cured”.

Another Day On Facebook - February 15, 2010

I do not think he is cured either but I wonder if he was cured…What would he do?

It didn’t seem like he had that many friends and since he is in a culture that is based on technology, I don’t think he would know what to do with himself.

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