Usually my local net cafe is full of boys and young men playing CounterStrike for hours on end or staring at the lao wai girl (your results may vary). As internet gaming becomes more popular, it’s having some surprising effects in China.
China is home to the Beijing Internet Addiction Treatment Center. It may not be totally unwarrented, as this article on a serial cyber-husband, whose internet dating cost real cash and a huge GPA decline, shows. I’m not entirely sure how one cures internet addiction… does the treatment center fake a power outage? Do they find girlfriends for the nerds in page-refresh recovery? Do they enlist all the addicts in a week-long D&D game?
Also, the CPC is worried that these gamers are learning about dark elves and snipers, but not about Mao. So now the Chinese government has asked the Shanghai-based gaming company Shanda to develop a new game, called Chinese Heroes. In this game, players will learn about Chinese history and tradition virtues. No word on if there’s a dragon boat race to rescue a drowning poet.
In case you think China was inspired by America’s Army, some tasks include carrying bricks and answering questions about the hero’s life. I’m not sure how that’s going to pull players away from WoW, but Puzzle Pirates’ block games were surprisingly addictive. No release date yet.