Text Games: Providing Sanctuary to the Far-East
By Tony Celentano
A month ago, the Korea Herald reported that the ministry was imposing a midnight curfew on online games. The policy allows Korean gamers to choose from 3 different time periods of the day, for when the internet will be unavailable to them. They're also including a "slowdown" system, causing online gamers to become increasingly laggy the longer the play .
Although 19 popular MMORPGs were cited in the list, no mention was made of online text games. Interestingly enough, the ministry is hoping to break addiction to online gaming in young people - didn't someone tell them that online text games are the most addicting of all? While the Korean game market has been dominated by grindfest MMORPGs, they are no strangers to text games. In fact, the first Korean text game was released in 1994, titled 'Jyuragi Gongwon', or Jurassic Park MUD. It ran on a heavily modified version of LPMud, so that it would accept Korean text!
Maybe this author is capitalizing on sensationalism; just don't be surprised if an influx of Korean text gamers start graduating from your favorite text game's newbie tutorial. I for one welcome our far-eastern text game brethren, and hope the grindfest MMO market takes a well-deserved plummet.
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It's been reported that Chinese prisoners are used as farm labour. However, it's not crops they're farming - it's online game currency. UK newspaper The Guardian told the story of Liu Dali, a man jailed for three years in 2004. Liu says he was one of many prisoners forced to gold farm in various MMORPGs, citing that prison guards would then sell for real money.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
Liu noted that prisoners were beaten if they did not complete a daily work quota, or forced to stand in stressful positions. While gold farming in text games is not theoretically impossible, it is tightly controlled by administrators due to the smaller playerbase. A text character generating large amounts of gold and regularly transferring credits to other players for free would probably not go undetected, and investigations would follow. Therefore, it's safe to say that text games do not allow these kinds of practices, and Iron Realm's should get a Human Rights Award.
Crazy Japanese Invention
Lastly, it's the taboo topic no one wants to talk about - just where exactly do text characters 'go'? While some may argue that the call of nature is not something text characters respond to, bathrooms and toilets do exist in room descriptions. So if our text game characters do have needs, where is an acceptable place to, ahem? Luckily, those crazy Japanese have given roleplay enthusiasts something to work with. While privacy is something left to be desired, the system is undeniably effective.
This is Tony Celentano, urging Eastern (and Western!) gamers to check out the many free online text games at IronRealms.com!