Gangsters & Gamers?
Koreans go mad over Lineage, mob moves in
Gamers are a strange breed, but none come stranger than the Koreans. This is a country where there are literally hundreds of gaming bars and cafés, where Diablo II is so huge that even with two Realms to themselves the country's players still invade the USA on most nights, where top Starcraft players can earn tens of thousands of dollars a year in corporate sponsorship, and where online gaming is reported on in newspapers and television shows alongside "real" sports, showbiz gossip and politics.
But even by Korean standards the fanaticism surrounding massively multiplayer role-playing game Lineage is extreme. This game has more subscribers than Everquest, Ultima Online and Asheron's Call combined, almost all of them Korean, and online politics and arguments often spill out into the real world. A report in Time magazine describes "offline PK" incidents where players have attacked members of rival clans in bars, attempts to bribe system admins at developer NCSoft, protests outside their heavily fortified office, and threats from real-life gangsters who run online protection rackets. It's eye-opening to say the least...