Text Games: Providing Sanctuary to the Far-East

text games mmo internet cafe

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.


Other Related News

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!



yay America 

yay Germany

Yay all the other countries?

Yay to all countries that we approve of, polite refusal to acknowledge the others?



When I read this it was quite shocking. I never realised that games could be taken to this level of reality.

i thought the same thing


I feel like upgrading my internet to ultra speed now, and inviting some koreans over.


Interesting and engaging article, and good to hear that, while keeping prisoners is very bad, at least they aren't being (physically) worked to death. Better than nothing. I bet we could sell them some, like, exploding currency or something.

to do some kind of work. In the UK you can opt out, but by doing so you forfeit your (somewhat meagre) wage. The most local prison to me have the prisoners manufacture burgler alarm systems from 9 till 5 daily for £25 per week ($40 ish?). It is this work that funds the prison to an extent thus lessening the cost to the tax payers for keeping the criminals off the street. Given the choice of making alarm systems or grinding on wow I know what I would prefer, though to be beaten for not making a quota is deffinately not acceptable and is a breach of human rights.


EDIT: I am not or have not been a prisoner, I know this as I am a forensic nurse, and go there to assess potentially mentally ill prisoners.

Fortunately, farming gold or credits for others is totally against IRE's rules! No Achaea-sweatshops thank you!


I'm assuming they mean South Korea here?

North Korea has their own seperate network, from what I heard. They have zero access to all the sites we know- google, youtube, IRE, etc.


I would think so! :P


South/North?? ^^

Interestingly enough, none of this surprises me. Online gaming in asia especially the far-east is taken pretty seriously in all concerns, I'm surprised the author didn't Starcraft cause its basically their sport.

it's more of "Zerg Rush" than normal Starcraft. Damn them.


And they were STILL hooked.... I never did get that. I mean the game was awesome but I can't play the same game for 10 years...... well, unless it's Achaea I suppose.

Gaming in asia is not a hobby, it's a way of life! This is not surprising


It's a way of life around the world.

That is pretty crazy news but, like everyone is saying, not all that surprising.

Holy jeez, that Japanese tablet foamy thing was ridiculous. There's going to be a whole list of WoW players that will never be seen nor heard from again.

Here we go again... The emergency toilet isn't for gamers. It's for people who don't have electricity or running water in their homes because of a disaster like an earthquake. The portable? toilet helps to make sure that odor doesn't become a problem (or disease).There is no mention of video games...

In earthquake-prone Japan, it is becoming a necessity as people are starting to find out.

Most hard-core gamers in Japan are focused on their PSPs which you can easily bring with you into the bathroom.

Thank you, I'm glad you said it so I don't have to.

I wonder which would be quicker:

-bashing gold in WoW and selling it for real money to purchase credits


-raising gold in Achaea and buying credits IG



At level 85 I can grind around 600gold in 2-3 hours and mine enough ore/gather enough cloth to make between 1 and 1.5 gold. Selling this would make me enough money to buy 50 credits. I have never sold gold from wow, but going from the prices that are spammed on /trade.

I'm guessing that's not Midkemia gold? I'd be flat out getting more than 5 or 6 gold, which would net me 20 credits at guild (huge discount) prices, or about 6 credits on the open market.

He's talking WoW gold.

It's really serious over there. There's even boot-camps for dealing with game-addiction. It's not unsual in the view-point of someone who grew up in a strict Asian environment where education is placed before video games, friends, and other hobbies. It's a cultural thing.


if I where there I would be having my system being so laggy because I generally play aloyt of games some days.

I loved the Japanese portable toilet. It would come handy to me when I go to work with my laptop in bars and coffee shops, so I don't have to go to the WC with my computer. I'll keep working while peeing in human sandbox.


I happen to live in South Korea, and yes, the ministry (supposedly) for the welfare of women, children and teens have imposed that silly law in order to "protect the health of the young", although I must say that excessive schoolwork is far more stressful and unhealthy than gaming. That surely did drive a multitude of highschoolers to look for alternative methods of having fun on the Internet.


Honestly, though, I don't think such a lot of teenagers would bother learning enough English to play text games from the western regions(that are free from the local restrictions), what with just how easy it is to play games like StarCraft with their friends.


Of course, most Asian parents would be rather happy to let their children play text games if they could be convinced that it will improve their English. *shrug*

for the POV from the other side :)

It is always interesting to see someone from the actual area's point of view.


And really, I think any parent wants to see their child succeed.. and will likely push them(hopefully gently) into areas they see might help them with their personal goals in life.

Indeed. It's unlikely many at all would really come over to westerner text-based games, but I'd still welcome the added player base.



 To put up a curfew and limit the hours they spend on internet as well as lagg them if they spend too much is stupid..it's a right and a choice to use the internet...

Indeed. If people cannot control themselves, that's their problem.

Who would have thought their internet addiction would get so bad the government would have to step in? I mean can you imagine the volume of internet porn that country must burn through?


Even I have succumbed to the lure of cheap gold on WoW. I no longer play WoW, but if I ever do return, you can be sure that I won't buy gold from anyone. Who knows which companies use prisoner farmed gold. So sad!

I have played many Japanese and Korean MMOs as well as many American MMOs.  I admit I have pretty much purchased gold from random website on all of them.  Never again!

I guess that is an advantage of MUDs, atleast on Iron Realms...they provide you with a way to purchase gold, with no beating or uncomfortable positions forced on anybody.  As well, they make it...not easy...but fun to earn currency in game.  They even provide a way to trade and sell currency of all types, as long as its not "Bound".

I think its safe to say im done playing MMOs that have graphics other than shiny text and maybe a dynamic border...everything has become boring with no community and very little actual quests that involve using your noggin.  No more Chuck Norris jokes or random dancing on mailboxes for money.....

Peace out graphics!  Bring on the shiny text!

Its really this kind of nannery that scares me. I think we can all agree that no government needs to be sticking their nose into the consumption of bandwith, or people's personal use of time. For the Interwebs, Koreans, Rise up!


I wanna run a prison now. j/k

Definitely disappointing to hear some of this if not all

What do you expect?

I think the one nice thing about text games is that it's slightly easier to work them around your schedule. You're able to enter and leave a little more easily and idle for a time (assuming you're not in an aggressive or thief-prone area.) 

Wonder when that will start happening in the states.

I'm sure it's coming. ATT already instituted their bandwidth cap where you start getting charged for going over 150 GB a month. 

amazing article..

...home of radical interventions!

Who knew that supporting IRE was helping save people from being forced to farm gold?

I find IRE games to be extremely laggy in Asian countries. :/

It's fine for me and I live in Asia.

I always wondered who farmed my gold when I used to play WoW before I got addicted to these wonderful text based games.

... that bit doesn't suprise me at all.  Srsly, why the hell do we keep the internet lines open to 'em?  Tho, I guess you'd call it the sins of a few.


Just another reason for me to hate gold bots.  Tho maybe I'll think twice now about screwing with 'em, since someone might actually get a beating for it. -_-;

Just lucky they don't even think about that here in europe.

Really I'm not all that suprised that some corrupt guards force people to farm. AS its been stated earlier its  good thing you can't do that in Achaea.

They're all crazy, but that's communism for you...or whatever they have over there these days. Admittedly I would rather play games than be worked to death if I ever had to worry about being prisoner in a corrupt prison.

I sense a rush of Korean kids fleeing to the U.S....


Even though I had heard of this going on before I hadn't read an article that actually made me believe it. What some people will do.

Never knew this.

been the case..

Same old comment. Crazy crap, not suprising.

. . . then playing WOW is the way to go. No seriously, forced labor is forced labor. This really is one of the things I like about text-based RPGS; they are more intimate. The bigger and more commercial something gets (the bigger the beast), the more likely someone is gonna get hurt to turn a profit.

Many companies in China are like prison labor camp

and you don't want a prison visit in china!

That's a really strange article... I feel really bad for the people in the far east.

I'm glad the Japanese toilets are being put to their original use in the earthquake hit country. The idea of WOW gamers using them only puts me in mind of that disgusting SPark episode. -Yuck-

I'm surprised to see Koreans have a boot camp where they can go about their game addiction. I work in a video game store--we can use some of those for Americans here!

Asia really has a different mindset and culture than the West.

To be honest, Asia is just like the West in many ways, although many people do seem to have different preferences. I am not really attached to the culture of my home country, but I can tell that it's westernising quite quickly. Not that it's a bad thing either.

I'm pretty sure those who really want to play will find a way around the government restrictions.

Probably, if you work with another person and each picks another timeslot you are golden. But eh, I don't see the big problem, you need 8 hours of sleep a day and if there are 3 slots in a day that means there is 8 hours of no internet. Perfect really, just plan your day around it. I'm not saying I approve of the system, I'm all for freedom of choice, but there are harsher things really.

They are always a few steps ahead

an interesting read



you mean entertaining!

i'd probably be a content inmate if i were to just farm gold. that's how lazy i am.

D: United Nations has to do something about this.


This is cruel. We strike at dawn.

Which bank can I rob?

> Article about what measures can have to be enforced when addiction spins out of control

> Author describes text games being addictive as a positive thing


Am I the only one who sees something wrong in that?

that is an impressive measure the goverment took for the entire country.. 

wouldn't be bad to get some extra players from there though..

i'm a little curious as to where text characters 'go', myself...

I don't much mind the curfew (kids seriously in most industrialized countries spend far too much time indoors, we aren't in nuclear winter yet - physical activity is very important to growth and letting computers and tvs and iphones raise our kids needs to bloody end), but the forcing slower internet speeds (and obviously the rest) seems a little harsh.

Interesting giving them a choice in what hours they can play. I'm sure though that if enough of them were addicted to text games, those would be added as well. They may be the most addicting, but their also the most difficult to introduce to someone.

Listen folks, they have those laws set in place (unjust or no) because exhaustion from playing video games for long periods without breaks is actually at epidemic levels. Must be something in the water... and in the games.

umm I like meeting people from different nationalities that aside... WTF?