report yesterday out of China indicating that "China's fast growing online gaming industry outpaces internet bandwidth provisions." As a quick review of earlier posts on this blog shows, the historical comparison with South Korea's experience is unavoidable. Starting in 1998, the introduction of broadband internet in Korea was accelerated by the popularity of the online game Starcraft among middle and high school students at the time, many of whom stayed out late at night playing the game at a growing number of internet cafes (PC Bangs). When Hanaro started providing broadband internet service in competition with Thrunet, it targeted advertising at parents with the appeal that their children, with its broadband service, could stay at home and still enjoy the new multiplayer online games.
The relationship of the online game industry to broadband networks and services is an interesting topic. As indicated in the reports from China, gaming activity accounts for a significant portion of the growing data traffic on broadband networks, both fixed and mobile. A recent study by Ericsson, "New Ways to Play Games," also showed there is a rising interest in games not only for the traditional younger generation but across all age demographics. Furthermore, as the researchers in Beijing noted, "Gaming is also seen as a growing mode of social interaction, transforming society and becoming a mainstream element in local culture. Gaming is now being accepted as a mode of socialization in various cultures across the world."