The first time I heard of someone dying in a PC bong (Internet Café) in Korea, I was shocked.
How could this happen?
I clicked the headline which informed me that after nearly 12 straight hours of gaming, a 19 year old university student died in a PC bong in Ulsan. After reading the details, I didn’t even think to look and see if anyone else had ever died in a PC bong from over-gaming. This seemed to be an exception. An exhausted university student collapsed from exhaustion.
Gaming alone didn’t kill him.
I decided to talk to my teens about it, who seemed to shrug at the occurrence.
Teaching English abroad I have found, usually the things that are most shocking to me are everyday occurrences for my students. See especially Comparing attitudes toward cheating in Korea and Russia.
Despite the reactions, or lack of reactions, from my students, I maintained my assumption.
Death from online gaming can’t occur that often.
This was back in December.
I later found out that my students didn’t react much to the news because computer addiction is something they are much too familiar with.
Today BBC news reminded me of what I had written off as a freak occurrence. Opening their homepage, I read “Chinese online gamer dies after three-day session.” After clicking the link and looking at the headlines for related articles, including “South Korean children face gaming curfew.” I realized this is a huge problem.
The problem is not isolated to Korea.
It is by no means a recent development.
AND it happens relatively often.
In fact, it happens so often that BBC only covers the most extreme cases. A google search of “Korean gamer dies” did not immediately pull up the case I had read about in December.
In a culture where perfection and overwork is highly valued at academies, in schools, and at work, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same is true for gaming.