Whilst this is not yet the case in the UK, there have certainly been some reports along these lines in China where an online survey earlier this year (of 343 people – hardly representative in Chinese terms!) suggested that 60% felt they knew children who where obsessed with board games. One example given was an 11 year old boy becoming hooked on a new board game, Killers of the Three Kingdoms, playing at a local gym until the lights were turned off at 9:30pm. Perhaps this underlines the old adage that too
much of a good thing is bad and points more to the dangers of unsupervised play, at a young age (many behaviours if left unmonitored can become addictive) rather than any intrinsic danger in the game itself.
One wonders what that figure would be in the UK if the question were asked in relation to internet and computer games?
These reports comes on the back of a growing trend of games cafes in China with Beijing alone having over 200 where typically the 20 somethings come to meet friends and play a range of games. The cafes are frequently quite small and run by games enthusiasts rather than businessmen but because of demand space is hard to book with many open 24 hours a day.
This demand appears to have been fuelled by a number of dynamics unique to china:
- “Young Chinese are very lonely because of the one child family” says Shaun Rein of China Market Research in Shanghai as reported in the FT on 23/12/2010
- “Young people are immersed in the internet all day long. It has created a situation where people long for face to face communication” says Xia Xueluan a Professor at Peking University as reported in China Daily 12/10/2010 China has more online gamers than anywhere on earth and inevitably more internet addicts.
- Others have commented on the anonymous nature on the internet and uncertainties over who they are really dealing with, whilst with some of the latest online games being played with real rather than virtual friends it has posed the question ‘why not meet up and play together rather than closeted away in isolation?’
- Yet others have pointed to the fact that in cities with space at a premium many do not have the space in their homes to host a games party.
“It’s not just about the fun of the games but also the interaction with people; the jokes, the laughter. It’s a million times better than looking at some cold screen ......”
Given the Lonely Society Reports findings last year that there is a growing trend of loneliness amongst the youth of the UK maybe it would be worth them risking the dangers of addiction to this very wholesome and social pastime?