The children I teach have one thing in common. They love computer games.
"What did you do last night?" "Played computer games."
"Did you do anything fun on the weekend?" "Video games."
"Did you go anywhere?" "A PC room with my friends."
"What are your hobbies?" "Gaming."
Ok, guys, I get it...
But how can it be the main leisure activity? Humans, especially children, need touch and social interaction. Enter multi-player gaming. Thousands of players compete in battles like Starcraft. Top Korean players are paid wages of professional sports players!
A minority are even addicted, sacrificing jobs and interpersonal relationships.
Do the games encourage violence? My guess is no. Doom, the ultimate Generation X game, was blamed for the Columbine tragedy. The boys played incessantly in the days leading up to the massacre. But it's obvious to me that they were desensitized. Period.
Mothers may look over their son's shoulder and see horrific bloodshed, but there are mental games at play. A program I saw on the Discovery Channel questioned why the players need the outpouring of emotion. I agree that that is the question.
I'd say the popularity of video games in Korea can be linked to the crazes of portable TV players, cell phones, engrossing dramas and norebang. Even drinking. Kids are stressed out from the pressures of school. They don't want to think. They'd much rather nest in front of the computer screen and forget the stresses of daily life.