Goodbye, Wangba: The Rise & Decline of Internet Bars in China

A group of children outside a "wangba" internet bar in China.

From NetEase:

Goodbye, Internet Bar

2002’s large fire at the “Lan Ji Su” internet bar resulted in a strict crackdown of internet bars for as long as ten years. However, what really caused people to say goodbye to internet bars was not government policy but the internet’s transformation towards mobile devices.

US President Bill Clinton at an internet bar in Shanghai, China.

1995, China’s first internet bar “3C+T” was established in Shanghai, and operated in the mode of an internet cafe. In the ten years that followed, internet bars “sprouted up like spring bamboo after the rain”, appearing on streets and in the alleys throughout China. Photo is of 1998, when United States president Bill Clinton was visiting Shanghai, and visited an internet bar on Shaanxi West Road in Shanghai.

Young Chinese using computers at an internet bar in China.

At the end of the ’90s, the internet quietly entered people’s field of vision. Because computers at the time were relatively expensive, most households did not purchase computers, with internet bars thus becoming the main place people went online. Photo is of 2002, an internet bar in Beijing. Photo: Cai Daizheng

An second-hand store in China selling computer monitors.

The prevalence of online gaming attracted China’s earliest batch of faithful netizens, and the internet bar industry thus entered its golden age, becoming a new mecca of leisure for people. Photo is of 2002, of a second-hand store in Beijing filled with second-hand computers collected from internet bars. REUTERS

Young Chinese at an internet bar in China.

At the time, there was a resounding saying: “If you want to get rich, open an internet bar”. Other than computer usage and overnight use fees, internet bars also relied on selling online gaming points/currency cards and QQ currency to make money. The daily income for larger internet bars could reach thousands of yuan. Photo is of 2005, of a packed internet bar in Chongqing, with later customers having to wait in line. Photo: Jiang Shangou/Dongfang IC

Young girls at an internet bar in China.

Internet bars became a bridge for young people to interact with the world, as well what many post-’80s generation regard as an essential memory of their youth. Photo is of 2003, inside an internet bar in Sichuan, where several students try to avoid a reporter’s camera. Photo: Ling Chen/CFP

Young men asleep at a dirty internet bar in China.

Owing to a lack of oversight/supervision, a lot of violence and sexual activity occurred in internet bars, which became known as gathering places for society’s idlers and such people. News of youth becoming addicted to the internet also began appearing in newspapers. Photo is of 2005, when angry parents of a student in Fuzhou whose grades have dropped because of becoming engrossed with the internet reported a “black [illegal, immoral] internet bar” to the government Administration for Industry and Commerce. Han Xiao/CFP

A Chinese monk using a computer.

Photo is of 2000, Shandong, as a monk browses information about Buddhism at an internet bar. With regards to the various problems concerning the internet at the time, he made a very zen remark: “If a monk is guilty, the guilt should not apply to all monks; if a monk is to be punished, the temple should not be punished.” Photo: Yue Qiang/CFP

An exhibit for the "Lan Ji Su" internet bar fire that killed 25.

A shift in the internet bar industry occurred on 2002 June 16. Early that morning, Beijing’s “Lan Ji Su” internet bar was set on fire by four middle school students. When the fire occurred, the door had been locked by the owner to prevent customers from running away [without paying], so the customers were trapped within, resulting in 25 deaths, half of which were students. Photo is of 2005, of the “Haidian Public Safety Museum” exhibiting a reconstructed scene of the Lan Ji Su internet bar fire. Photo: Xiao Yi/CFP

Chinese schoolchildren participating in an anti-internet bar school activity.

The “Lan Ji Su” incident shocked the entire country, with various universities, middle schools, and primary schools launching huge “stay away from internet bars” educational campaigns. 2002 November 19, the Nanpu No.2 Primary School in Wenzhou city held a “just say ‘no’ to internet bars” activity, and established an “oriole” supervision team comprised of elementary school students. Photo: Lu Chunyu/CFP.

Chinese schoolchildren form the Chinese characters for "stay away from internet bars".

Starting from 2002 November 15, the “Regulations on the Administration of Business Sites of Internet Access Services” went into effect, with prohibiting minors from entering internet bars being a primary focus. Photo is of 2009 September 16, where Anhui Huaibei Taoyuan Coal Mine Primary School students used their bodies to form the characters for “Stay Away from Internet Bars”. Photo: Ma Zhen/Dongfang IC

Government regulators inspect an internet bar in China.

The “Regulations” stipulated that internet bars not admit minors, conspicuously display a sign prohibiting minors from entering at the entrance, and to check and register the identity of internet users. Photo is of 2006, as law enforcement conduct a surprise check of internet bars in urban Fuzhou. Photo: Yang Enuo, Lu Luyang/CFP

Young Chinese children at an internet bar.

Photo is of 2004, where an internet bar in Zhengzhou is being investigated. Upon seeing the reporter, many schoolchildren taking advantage of their time off to go online quickly hid [from the camera]. Photo: Ma Jian/CFP

Internet bar shuttles wait outside school gates in China.

Regulations also stipulate that “internet bars” may no longer be present within 200m of primary and middle schools, but this hasn’t stopped primary and middle school students from going to internet bars. Photo is of 2006, outside a college in Hefei city, where an internet bar shuttle greets students at the school’s gate. Photo: Huang He/CFP

A crowd of Chinese people at the bust of an illegally operated internet bar.

The government launched a clean up/rectification of internet bars throughout the country, including requiring a real name registration system, supervision of minors going online, multiple supervision of internet bars, suspending the issuance of licenses, etc. Photo is of 2003, in Sichuan Suining, where Industry and Commerce Bureau enforcers received reports from the public, and raided three unlicensed internet bars. Photo: Xie Xin/CFP

An illegal internet bar busted inside a building that says "urinals".

From 2003 onwards, the country implemented the “no new independent internet bars” policy. Independent internet bars are internet bars that are individually operated in contrast to internet bar chains. Photo is of 2005, Beijing Fengtai, as law enforcement personnel uncovered a black [illegal] internet bar in a room/building labeled “urinals”. Photo: Pu Feng/CFP

Government regulators inspect an internet bar in China.

10 years of government regulation and supervision hasn’t curbed the development of internet bars. Photo is of 2005, Fuzhou, where an enforcement officer is investigating an illegally-operated internet bar. Photo: Han Xiao/CFP

Chinese using computers at an internet bar in China.

What has actually caused the decline of internet bars is the popularization of [owning] personal computers as well as the assault of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Photo is of 2006, inside an internet bar in Tibet Lhasa.

A couple in a "couple's booth" at an internet bar in China.

According to statistics, there were a total of 136k internet bars throughout China in 2012, 10k less than in 2011, the first drop in the total number of internet bars since 2004. Photo is of 2006, where a pair of lovers use the internet in a couple’s booth.

Chinese youth playing online games at an internet bar.

Among the 670 registered internet bars in Shanxi Taiyuan, there are over 80 declaring that they are closing down, which is a closure rate exceeding 10%. 2009 December 24, young people using the internet at an internet bar in Shanxi Taiyuan. Photo: Shan Qing/CFP

Elderly volunteers patrol internet bars in China.

2013, after ten years of being frozen, the Ministry of Culture announced that it is lifting the prohibition against independent internet bars. However, the change in policy will still find it difficult to reverse the internet bar industry’s decline. Photo is of 2014 August 5, in Sichuan Luzhou, as members of the local community elderly volunteer internet bar oversight group make their rounds visiting internet bars. Photo: CFP

"Wangba" grafitti points to the entrance to an internet bar in China.

With the rise of mobile internet, internet bars that were once popular and could be found everywhere have now become a sunset industry. Photo is of 2008, of signs pointing to an internet bar in Shanghai. Photo: Xu Hede/Dongfang IC

Comments from NetEase:

网易浙江省温州市手机网友 ip:218.73.*.*

Those who have stayed overnight, been too tired, watched a movie in an internet bar, ding me.

网易广东省深圳市手机网友 ip:112.97.*.*

No matter what, internet bars carried the youths of many people.
CS, Chuanqi, Red Alert. (in no particular order.)

网易美国手机网友 ip:75.135.*.*

The decline of internet bars is only because everyone has a computer now, so there’s really no reason to make such a big fuss about it.

jlmwjgdjaj [网易江西省新余市手机网友]:

Turns out when I used the computer every day, my eyesight didn’t become bad, but ever since I could go on the internet with my mobile phone, my eyes have gotten worse and worse.

网易广东省深圳市手机网友 ip:112.97.*.*

Now when I think about how I used to play CS all night in internet bars back then, it is still a cherished memory.

网易山西省太原市手机网友(171.117.*.*):

2000 Red Alert, 2001 CS, 2002 Chuanqi, 2003 Diablo, 2004 Warcraft 2, 2005 Menghuan, 2006 Chenhai3c [Warcraft RPG map], 2007 WC3, 2008 DOTA… 2014 DOTA2… Anyone more or less the same as me?

网易浙江省温州市手机网友(60.181.*.*): (responding to above)

Chuanqi; Sifu; Qiannian; Yitian 2; Moxiang; Red Alert; Starcraft; CS; Chuanshi; Jianxia 1, 2, and 3; Rexue Jianghu; Zhuxian; Kating Che; Crazy Arcade; DNF; Yongbing Tianxia; Dantou Qibing; Quanqiu Shiming; Tianxia 3; Datang Haoxia, Datang Wushuang 2, League of Heroes, Jiu Yin Zhenjing

丨窗口灬 [网易广东省手机网友]: (responding to above)

Damn, are you two professional gamers?

琴音未了 [网易黑龙江省哈尔滨市手机网友]:

I loved online gaming with friends in the internet bar, so awesome~ fuck…

网易天津市手机网友 [小神J0YZ] 的原贴:

Internet bars maybe doomed? Don’t be ridiculous, you think you can put together a few pictures and say they’re doomed? Garbage editor. Right now internet bars are all going high-end, with really good machines, trending towards professional gaming. Going online has even gotten more expensive, three if not four yuan, and some are even seven yuan an hour. The environment/premises are comfortable, and there’s no lack of people.

网易广东省深圳市手机网友 ip:112.97.*.* (responding to above)

Exactly!

网易广东省手机网友(157.122.*.*):

From 1997 to 2000, Quake, Red Alert, and Age of Empires. 2000 to 2006 was the craziest times of CS and everyone playing together in the internet bar, with CS internet bar competitions everywhere. Warcraft was high-end as before, because after all few people knew how to really play, but the WCG competitions hooked people. Online games [probably referring to MMORPGs] I very rarely played, because I felt they were a waste of money and time, but back then Chuanqi, Tiantang, RO were also especially popular. After 2005, it was World of Warcraft and DOTA that were in vogue, but unfortunately I had already begun entering society [begun working], so I didn’t play much. After that, stuff like CF I felt had already become retarded, and LOL [League of Legends] was a copy of Dota, all stuff by Ma Huateng [Chairman of Tencent] that I wasn’t fond of. I’m a post-’80s generation. Those who have similar recollections, give this a ding!

Oh yeah, at the beginning of 2000, there was also a type of quiet person, those that were in chat rooms (which has probably already vanished by now). Back then, internet chat rooms were all crazy, haha.

雷帝嘎嘎 [网易广西贵港市手机网友]: (responding to above)

Chat rooms quiet? I remember around 2002, back then, voice chatting was popular, and there was never ending noise assaulting my ears.

dianaross [网易天津市网友]:

The generation of people with their heads down [looking at their phones] were thus born.

老痰酸菜面 [网易江苏省南通市手机网友]:

Without internet bars, [China] would be be the same as North Korea.

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  • lonetrey / Dan

    I feel like I missed out on something big….

    • Zhegezhege

      Really?
      Well you can still waste thousands of hours of your life playing computer games in dingy rooms that smell of piss, sweat, cigarette smoke and instant noodles. There’s nothing stopping you at all.

      • lonetrey / Dan

        I could do without sweat and piss, but tobacco and instant noodles sounds good… o__o

  • Honibaz

    As someone who is yet to catch up with the mobile fever, I’m deeply saddened by this news.

    • Alex Dương

      I know what you mean. I still use a $10 phone with a $100 / 12 months prepaid card.

      • b duck

        i dislike people use old phones, especially young people.
        i got my smart phone for free but.

        • Alex Dương

          Why?

          • b duck

            maybe i like new things very much.
            i check tech news everyday almost.
            once sth great and new invented, i wish i had enough money buy one to try.
            now i am dreaming of that running wheel without handle type. do not know how to call it.feel it’s super cool.

          • Rick in China

            You “dislike people use old phones”? That’s ridiculous. Lots of people don’t need or want all of the features a new smartphone may have. Lots of people use a phone as a phone, and for texting or equivalent, and old phones can serve that purpose perfectly fine. New phones break and drop into toilet holes where their families jump in to save that expensive piece of hardware leading to deaths – new phones create honeypots for thieves and violence, there’s nothing wrong with old phones, and personally – I think people should get *what they need* as opposed to *what they think is cool*, no?

          • b duck

            im young, i like smart phone. so simple!
            i want smart phone and good-looking, now i have hello kitty sticker on my phone.
            old phones are for my parents. we call it stupid phone.

          • Rick in China

            It’s fine if you want one. But thinking other people are stupid (or disliking them) for their choice of phone…..just makes you seem like an ignorant little douchebag deserving of a smack.

          • 白色纯棉小裤裤

            高端黑?

          • b duck

            haha! low iq! maybe!

          • David

            Can I assume since you put a HELLO KITTY sticker on your phone, that you are a young (like teenage) girl? If so, congratulations on having the courage to post here. It can be scary for a young person when English is not their first language.

          • b duck

            no, i am gay!

          • David

            I am not sure what being gay has to do with hello kitty, do you mean because you are effeminate (female like)? Because certainly not all gay men are effeminate. Either way good job on posting and keep doing it. Practice is the only way to get better.

          • SongYii

            Ive heard theres a trend in western europe of young people reverting back to text and talk phones (dumbphones?) because theyre sick of being connected constantly.

          • Rick in China

            There are many reasons. Lots of older style phones have very good battery life by comparison. They don’t typically get stolen or at least aren’t the target of thieves, and they perform the functions most people *need*. They’re cheap and relatively disposable, and if you lose it you’re not going to be financially fucked (many people financially hurt from the loss of a 4k rmb phone). There are also lots of _innovations_ for simple phones, like in Africa, people use their shitty long battery life cheap phones as a payment method in shops rather than cash.

          • Irvin

            Waaaaay back in the days, people used to look at your shoes or watch to determine your status in life, if you’re a rich kid or not or weather you got good taste.

            Now it’s all about phones, if you got an old beat up phone don’t even pull it out.

          • Alex Dương

            Meh. Twenty years ago, cellphones were a bulky, heavy luxury. A few days back, I saw a clip on Youtube of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria. Even in a relatively poor, wartorn country, I could see many civilians taking photos of decapitated soldiers with smartphones. So I don’t think a smartphone is a sign of status anymore, and even if it was, I wouldn’t care.

    • SongYii

      you are way way behind :-D

  • LuoyangLaowai

    Wow. This is actually well written and informed article. Very Detailed.

    • Slayer

      Thought the same thing. Wish Shanghaiist was capable of putting out a comprehensive piece like this, even if a lot of the material is off the shelf – it feels cohesive. Nice.

  • b duck

    when I was in high school, 5 rmb/hr in ugly dirty wangba.
    but my father bought me computer early, so i am so lucky.
    just went to wangba time to time, but unluckily saw super ugly fat girls watching disgusting AV and do video chat but curse loud like a village aged bitch…then no more.
    nowadays, wangba is updated, more for young students play game together.

  • Makes me feel nostalgic, and I’ve never even been to an Internet bar…

    Then again, I was in middle school and high school during these years, so I have comparable cherished memories of using the computers in the school library during lunch with friends. Good times…

    • Kai

      My school computer memories are mostly Oregon Trail and Number Munchers in elementary school. I think in middle school, we had Typing Tutor for a typing elective and that’s about it, which I dominated at because I actually had played Typing Tutor long ago from a copy my mom had bought for some reason or another (she set up my dad’s computers back in the day but I never saw her use it or have my dad use it, and he’s still all about the two-finger typing).

      • nita

        Oregon Trail was the shit! And pogs.

        • Kai

          LoL, yeah, Oregon Trail is legedary. Pogs, not so much. I collected some pogs as an extension of my interest in comic books, but I never really played with them or my slammers for fear of ruining them. They’re all in tubes somewhere in my garage back home, unlikely to ever appreciate in value, only serving as a reminder of a childhood fad and folly.

      • DavidisDawei

        I was certified at 13 WPM on a typewriter in high school, but thanks to word processing software two finger typing is very effective when you know where the keys are. I would be in trouble if I had to use a typewriter because I would never see the end of the page, but a computer rolls it over to the next line automatically. This definitely increased worker efficiency and probably eliminated some jobs in offices around the world.
        My little nephew started a business when he was only 11 years old. He collects/buys/sells old typewriters. Last time in China, I went looking for an old Chinese typewriter to give to him as a gift. I remember seeing photos of China before WWII and there are often photos of Chinese in the banks and they are all dressed sharply and their desks all had typewriters, so I hope I will eventually find one in relatively good condition.

        • Kai

          13 WPM, that’s shameful! ;)

          But yeah, having to hit return on typewriters will impact WPM, though they did eventually have typewriters that automatically returned. In the end, it’s just about training muscle memory.

          Edit: One thing I realized that really affects my WPM is tactile feedback. I like the clackety-clack of certain typewriters and computer keyboards. If the keys don’t make a sound or offer enough resistence, I have trouble knowing whether or nor a key was depressed.

          • DavidisDawei

            I think you can set that preference on your computer, to make certain sounds, and adjust the volume setting when a key is depressed…?

            yes, it’s not so great, but with “word” I fly…and worry about edits later after my thoughts are on the page.

            With a regular typewriter, I get so engrossed on typing that I don’t hear the bell and I end up with a single mass of ink at the edge of the page. I went thru more white out and tape than I can recall.

            Even though it is a great tool, what happens if we don’t have the computer and wifi? The computer may be making people less intelligent thanks to auto spell check, calculator and google/wiki.

  • KamikaziPilot

    When I hear people saying internet bars reminded them of their youth, I start feeling really old.

    • satuon

      It was pretty much the same in Eastern Europe – Internet Cafes proliferated at one time (early 2000s were the peak I think). I think they decline not when everyone got a computer, but rather when everyone got an Internet connection.

      • centinel

        I think “internet bars” in some parts of the world translate to “arcades” two decades earlier in the US. Before we all had personal computers, arcades were everywhere. Now, other than a handful of high-end places, they don’t exist. Good memories, though.

        • satuon

          Arcades proliferated in my country, too, but in the early 90s, immediately after democracy came. The Internet cafes came a decade later. The first ones were not connected to the Internet, actually (they were called just “computer rooms” then), but they had LAN, so you could play StarCraft and various 3d shooters in multiplayer.

        • hehehehh

          speaking of which, i cant find a decent arcade in my country anymore.

  • Insomnicide

    This actually makes me feel really sad. During highschool I would often go to internet cafes after school with friends to play multiplayer games.

    So many good memories were had inside internet cafes. That really sums up the internet-borne generation all across the world.

    • Rick in China

      Me too – friends and I all owned computers, but we’d go hang out at a gaming cafe to play quake all the time. That’s the direction China’s internet cafes are going in I suppose, nothing wrong with that! So many people have personal internet access the internet cafes for any other reason (stop in for a quick search/mail by travellers, or get together for network gaming) there’s no other reason to have so many cafes… they still exist, just not as a means to ‘get access’. Makes sense, and is a good sign – not a bad sign. It would be a bad sign if the *crackdown*, when it happened, significantly hindered internet access when people needed it most.

      • Irvin

        There’s just something very special about hearing your friends scream “you fucking cheater!” when you blow their heads off than playing at home when you can only imagine their screams.

      • slob

        We all had computers too where I lived and one day a friend took us to the local net bar to play Counter Strike 1.5. I had never played before and one game was all it took to get me hooked. There were about 100 people in the net bar so 90% of us would make CS rooms and all join in.The raging, laughing, cheering, booing, insults at people sitting 2 computers away, mouse/keyboard smashing, swearing, it was just so….fcking…hilarious. And of course thiswas in Oz so if one female walked in, everyone would stare at her like an alien just waltzed thrugh the door.
        I feel sorry for the current gen though as most games are played online only and I rarely see anyone playing against others in the same net bar. You might be lucky to see 5 people on LoL or WoW, but rarely will you see up to 30+ people playing together anymore.

        • YourSupremeCommander

          Man you people make me look real old now, my fond memories of gaming like that is with SF2… yoga fire!

          Before the Internet.

  • SongYii

    Probably the most informative article on CS in a while.

    It seems internet bars are generally equivalent to endless hours of video games, memories of which some of these netizens hold fondly in the way I think of climbing trees, riding bikes, playing baseball, setting things on fire etc. when I was a kid.

    Does anyone here spend that much time using the internet for video gaming? Is this mostly an East Asian thing?

    • tomoe723

      I doubt it’s an Asian thing. Youtube has lots of videos where Caucasian kids swear at their own moms or smash keyboards/monitors for not being able to play WoW or the likes. I bet they spent their entire youth on video games.

    • icup

      it’s a new generation thing. those that grew up in an age without internet and social media lived a more fulfilling youth.

      • Kai

        You think so? In general, I don’t think so. I think it was a different sort of youth, but it could be just as fulfilling. It all depends on how much subjective value you got out of whatever you did versus whatever subjective value you attach to whatever you didn’t do.

        • tomoe723

          I don’t mean to insult anybody, but kids who spent most times in virtual worlds than real outdoor physical activities tend to be more narcissistic. I think it’s an effect of the internet being virtual, more mental, and rather closed environment. Kids seem to think that they’re more correct than everyone else in a virtual world, probable because of the false sense of freedom, control, and anonymity that it provides.

          So, yeah, in my opinion, “those that grew up in an age without internet and social media lived a more fulfilling youth.”

          • Kai

            Interesting, is that a personal observation of yours or has it been suggested by academic studies?

            While I can see the rationale behind some of the things you describe, I can easily see arguments to the contrary as well. For example, there’s no direct link between narcissism and “virtual, mental, closed environment”. There’s also no direct linke between “virtual, mental, closed environment” with “thinking they’re more correct than everyone else”. There’s the stereotype of people retreating into virtual worlds due because they offer an escape from their real-world self-esteem issues, like Elliot Rodger, but there are just as many people who deal with those issues by abusing substances or overcompensating into becoming schoolyard bullies.

            I think there are a lot of people who could fit your characterization, but I also think there are a lot of people who fit your characterization without having spent most of their time in virutal worlds (excluding whatever they come up in their heads).

            That said, it’s generally unhealthy to spend too much time in a virtual world at the cost of neglecting and living in the real world. People need to get sun, exercise, socialize in person with real body language instead of emotes, etc… you know, all the things to level up your main character (your actual self).

          • tomoe723

            Apparently, it’s not only my personal observations but some academic studies have also shown this to be the case. A simple google search will yield surprising results. Although they haven’t really made any explicit connection to “virtual, mental, closed environments”, they’ve shown that there is a correlation to online games (or social media) to narcissism. It’s mostly the features of that virtual environment that contribute more to the narcissistic development, like in-breeding, competition (not necessarily bad, but can be manipulated), gambling, abusive moderation, status seeking, etc.

            Specifically though, from a general understanding, closed environments lead to a narcissistic population–virtual or not. This article explained a lot to me how our virtual world is getting smaller and smaller despite the internet’s infinite vastness.

            http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/virtual-friendship-and-the-new-narcissism (Warning: It’s a long read.)

            I’ve spent considerable time in virtual worlds, too. And I felt certain narcissistic tendencies cropping up in myself as well. It’s just that if I was still a kid, it would have been difficult to spot these “undesirable” traits being integrated into myself. I can easily spot it from my playmates in these virtual games, but I can’t really do anything about them. The game also encourages (or conditions) these types of attitude. For profit of course.

            If there’s a balance like you said, they can offset the game’s influence on their minds. Too much time spent in a virtual world is really unhealthy. If kids spent more time on their “main character”, I bet they can do so much more than what they can ever hope to achieve in a virtual world. It’s lasting too. But I’m not about to discredit everything that one learns from a virtual world. In some cases, it’s good testing ground for real world scenarios.

            Most of the papers I’ve read on the above studies usually done by Korean researchers, I wonder why.. LOL

          • Kai

            Inbreeding in virtual environments?! O_o

            I’m going to go on the record in saying I think virtual interactions, especially when coupled with anonymity, results in behavior that is much less likely to happen in the “real world” in face-to-face interactions. A lot of the literature drawing connections between online environments and psychological/behavioral phenomenon like narcissism reads too much like past efforts to linke video games to violent behavior. There are arguments that are seemingly sensible and even compelling, but there are still so many factors that aren’t controlled for and questions that remain.

            As for Koreans, well, they have awesome broadband internet and a huge online gaming culture, but I can’t really say I’ve read much about their social issues with the internet.

          • tomoe723

            “I’m going to go on the record in saying I think virtual interactions, especially when coupled with anonymity, results in behavior that is much less likely to happen in the “real world” in face-to-face interactions.”

            This only applied when the internet was relatively new. Nowadays, it’s already akin to augmented reality. A person who trolls on the internet is much more likely to be an ass in real life, either a jerk or a pussy, but nevertheless the same prick attitude. Some who stalks online profiles, gotta be careful with those… LOL. It’s a ticking time bomb. So many academic studies have shown these to be the case. Even laws have been adjusted to accommodate criminal/disturbing behavior in online social media.

            How a person carries himself in a virtual game largely dictates his attitudes and personality in the real world. I’m not talking about killing zombies or carrying out a crime job in a virtual scenario, I’m referring to the particular social interactions he does in that game with respect to other elements that have real world representations, like with another player. The automatic duties that the game presents can be consciously abstracted and viewed as separate from the real world because the player knows it’s just a game. What’s more subtle are his/her social interactions, like cussing/swearing, power abuse (in a guild or party), scamming, manners (greetings and stuff), virtual attachments, addictions, etc, so many personality elements you can measure that have direct correlation to the one behind the monitor.

            In-breeding happens in virtual environments, too. A quote from this article describes it best.

            “It’s called an echo chamber, because you hear your own voice echoed back at you, sounding like many voices. The term is used to describe any forum where similar viewpoints prevail. It is considered a bad thing, because people exposed to an echo chamber of debate have their personal views reinforced while they are isolated from the differing viewpoints from the rest of society. It’s nothing new, and it’s never a good thing.”

            http://www.rainbase.com/node/27

          • Kai

            I think how a person becomes accustomed to behaving online in a virtual world will in ways influence their real world behavior, but I also think that crossover isn’t always so certain. For example, we can argue how a person who tends to behave one way with a certain person may end up behaving similarly with another person, because that mode of behavior has become part of who they are. However, we can also readily identify people who very easily and even instinctively have very different modes of behavior depending upon who they are with.

            So what I want to say is that I recognize the phenomenon you point to and stay skeptical about how consistent and reliable they are with most people.

            Yeah, I figured inbreeding meant people finding like-minded people and therefore reinforcing each other (like an echo chamber), but I just wanted to poke fun at the notion of actual “incest” online. But yeah, I think the cS comments section is a great examble of being an echo chamber for many people.

          • tomoe723

            Yeah, despite these studies, I’m also inclined not to make any definite conclusions. Personality and behavior has so many variables. Like you said, people just take on too many faces depending on who they’re with at the moment. But for complete strangers on the internet, I’d rather take caution than take the risk especially when they’re triggering flags…

            Personally, cS ain’t so bad. In my time posting here, which isn’t that often, tho I’ve been around for over 2 years already, I’ve seen worse forums than cS. It’s not the best, but it’s better than most that I’ve been to. Occasional trolls are permitted, and maybe a few hate posts slip by, but all in the spirit of freedom of expression I guess. So yes, I think the mods here are doing a good job. And the community in general ain’t so narcissistic either. I’ve seen a lot worse somewhere else. I think that’s why people still keep coming back here even if they don’t post much. Me included.

          • Kai

            Oh yeah, there are worse forums than cS. I’ve been here since the beginning so I’ve seen a lot (though I do think we’ve made some improvements with our moderating efforts over the past year). I was primarily alluding to how cS has often resembled an echo chamber, where people coalesce to reinforce each other’s gripes and prejudices, legit or illegit, and that often spirals a bit out of control.

            That said, the internet in general can easily become an echo chamber itself, especially as the information reaching people are increasingly being tailored to what they want to see and read and the notion that people are less and less confronted with and challenged by information they may not immediately be comfortable with becomes increasingly true. The internet is getting personalized, both as a function of how we users naturally seek out the information and communities that we are comfortable with, and by how internet media is algorithmically tailoring the information it serves to what it can divine about the individual user’s preferences.

            So what I’m saying here is actually in agreement with your initial claims about virtual worlds making people more narcissistic! :D

          • tomoe723

            Haha, yah, I also got that notion from the atlantis link I posted above. But even if that’s generally where we’re all heading, I still believe that with good moderators, it won’t necessarily become too myopic. It’s a really complicated issue to handle.

      • Irvin

        I did all, climbed trees, ride bikes, went to beach twice a week having living close to it and it wasn’t more or less fulfilling than computing.

        Climbing a tree may be fun but so is blowing someone’s head off as his brain matters paint the wall behind him.

    • Kai

      I did. First it was Starcraft in high school, then CS in college. I had conquered tree climbing and bike riding earlier and computers and the internet were the new, exciting frontier at the time. This was before the Asians got into these games.

      I remember revisiting both games in like 2007 or something, something like 6-8 years after I stopped playing those games and being astounded by how much the casual and competitive gaming scene for both games had changed. For Starcraft, Korean gamers totally revolutionized it. For CS, just about everyone freaking owned with the AWP for some reason. There was less tactical teamplay where you had your friends cover your back as squads trying to break defensive positions. It was just a bunch of people sniping each other, one-shot, one-kill.

      I couldn’t bother to invest the time into improving my twitch skills. I had grown too old for those games and they no longer had the appeal. But back in the day, it was dialing up to play SC with my friends on Bnet and exploiting university broadband to play CS. CS was all the guys on our floor of the dorm against guys in other dorms or at our rival school. We’d have our doors open so we could coordinate by shouting to each other. They would be doing the same thing. They were good times.

      • SongYii

        I think I just never liked video games very much, so I’m not readily aware of how populated that world is. I had an Atari and Sega growing up, but once I hit high school, I only played PC games from time to time, and now I only have one that I play once or twice a year.

  • x1sfg

    Invest in MITS, I heard they’re releasing the Altair 8800 soon.

  • Wololoo

    英雄联盟 is translated with “League of Legends” or just LOL, not League of Heroes.

    • Daniel

      I heard it´s League of Lesbians :p

    • Markus P

      I read a Chinese team won million is a LOL competition in the USA. Apparently that is the most anyone has ever won from a gaming competition.

  • 500,000,000 years of history

    My neighborhood has gotten a bit quieter since the old internet bar closed about a month ago. I loathed having to go to those filthy, smoked-filled dumps when i was travelling. It was often difficult to find one back in those days. I used to have to hitchhike or take a six hour train trip across Transylvania from deep in the mountains to a place civilized enough to have an internet bar. Often times, they were full, had very slow internet speed, old computers and too many smokers. Good riddance.

  • Kai

    Yeah, internet bars are more associated with places where it was relatively expensive to own your own PC. I remember when internet bars tried to make inroads into the US market and thinking they were certain to fail because PC ownership was already quite high.

    Worst were the establishments owned by Asian immigrants who tried to transplant the idea after they were inspired by the scene overseas. The reason was because these entreprenuers tended to locate their internet bars in areas where they lived, and they tended to live in more affluent parts where a lot of families already had their own PCs. They’d only get a trickle of customers who often had to drive there and only went for ease of LAN gaming in the age of modems before broadband became more ubiquitous.

    Our local mall had one particularly tragic example, a huge venue with tons of money invested into decorating it out in Battletech or some mech universe decor. For months, maybe even years, it stood there unopened and half-finished, probably due to funding issues. It finally opened, with comic books as well, with all the hopes of being a hangout for geeks and gamers, but it was still obviously half-baked and soon closed afterward leaving people to wonder just how much money was lost on the entire debacle. It was so sad.

  • Kai

    In the States, we felt the same way when we started seeing Koreans on the game servers. It seemed they were on a whole different level, even against American competitive players. It was pretty humbling. When were you playing CS with these Chinese guys? I was playing CS back around 2000 when it was beta 5.2 and pretty much stopped long before it reached 1.0 I think.

    • Irvin

      Ahhhh CS, some fond memories there, I tried to revive the feeling with COD ghost, although the game is fun it’s not quite the same as CS.

  • nita

    Turns out when I used the computer every day, my eyesight didn’t become bad, but ever since I could go on the internet with my mobile phone, my eyes have gotten worse and worse.

    I actually agree with this. Ever since I got my iPhone, my eyesight has gotten noticeably worse, despite being completely stable for years.

  • IC

    The same tactical skill can be used in the real battle. A Han dynasty (same periord of Roman empire) general chen tong commented “夫胡兵五而当汉兵一” a single soldier of Han is equivalent to five northern barbarian soldiers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Tang

    胡 refer to barbarian in north.
    蛮 refer to barbarian in south.

  • centinel

    That’s because by the time the internet arrived, most households in the US had personal computers and were used to playing games like Doom and Quake at home. Our “cafe” time was the 80s when we all flocked to Arcades.

  • Pingback: The Rise & Decline of Internet Bars in China - China Digital Times (CDT)()

  • I remember the first time going to a Internet Bar in Tianjin at the end of January 2003. I hadn’t even thought how I’d get Internet access when I went there to teach. Sure, school had one computer that was online (part of the time, and 12 teachers to share it) and we could get cards to dial up modems for our apartment, but expensive and slow. So someone told me to just go outside, around the block to an Internet cafe. I hardly spoke any Chinese at the time, but after going once or twice, I saw myself in them all the time from 2003-2007 during my time in Tianjin. Fond memories, even though I don’t smoke or play CS and the like.

  • daniel wilson

    internet: the book 2

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