|Hangul||PC방, 피시방 or 피씨방|
|Hanja||PC房, 피시房, 피씨房|
|Revised Romanization||pisibang or pissibang|
|McCune–Reischauer||p'isibang or p'issibang|
A PC bang (Korean: PC방; literally "PC room") is a type of LAN gaming center, where patrons can play multiplayer computer games for an hourly fee. The typical cost for an hour of play ranges from 500 to 1500 won (approximately $0.44 to $1.32 USD.), with 1000 won per hour being the most common cost. Although the per capita penetration of computers and broadband internet access is very high in South Korea, PC bangs remain popular as they provide a social meeting place for gamers (especially school-aged gamers) to play together with their peers. The computer hardware used by PC bangs may be more powerful than the systems available in the players' homes. Most PC bangs allow players to eat, drink and smoke (often with separate smoking and non-smoking sections) while they play. Catering to people who stay for long hours, PC rooms are usually equipped with drinks and snacks (that are bought separately). Popular snacks include ramen cup noodles, coffee in cans, and various chips. Players can also order food from local restaurants.
The most played games in PC bangs are known in the industry as massively multiplayer online role-playing games, in which more than 100,000 people around the globe can play at the same time. PC bangs rose to popularity following the release of the PC game StarCraft in 1998. South Korea has developed a thriving computer industry with the Internet use reaching over 50% of the population. Currently 25 million citizens are using the Internet, and 14.4 million Korean homes are equipped with Internet access. Accompanying this high rate of home Internet access it is the estimated 25,000 PC bangs that now exist, while in 1997 there were only around 100 PC bangs in South Korea. Many popular Korean multiplayer games provide players with incentives which encourage them to play from a PC bang. For example, the Nexon games Kart Rider and BnB reward players with bonus "Lucci" — the games' virtual currencies — when they log on from a PC bang.
Although PC bangs are used by all ages and genders, they are most popular with male gamers in their teens and twenties. Throughout the day, the demographics of the PC room change. Most PC rooms are open 24 hours. In the mornings, the primary type of user is an adult male, between 30 and 50. During the afternoons, young males and a few females come in groups between 1-3 pm. During this time is when PC bangs are the noisiest. Around dinner time, teenagers and young adults come in. They usually play online card, arcade, or MMORPG games. Competitive game players (ages 18 and up) start coming in at 8pm and usually stay for several hours or all night. World of Warcraft, Counterstrike, and Starcraft are the most popular games for late-night players.
PC bang industry has created a culture that is participated in by most youth in South Korea. Gamers have turned the PC bang into a socialization facility, becoming a huge part in the lives of the Korean youth today. Many students have suggested that the PC-Bang provides a stress free, fun and youth dominated environment where groups of friends can meet and engage in a cooperative game. They have suggested that the games themselves may promote a social environment by promoting the development of squads or groups of players to play the game more effectively.
With computer and Internet access so readily available to the public, both at home and at the PC-Bangs, gaming addiction has become a concern. The consequences of several amount of hours spent at the PC bang gaming and the strong need to compete causes increased addiction and displacement problems of the Korean PC-Bang users. Biggest displacements due to addiction include sleep, school, homework, promises to meet with friends and time spent with friends. As part of its efforts to battle online game addictions among teenagers, South Korea introduced a law that prohibits those aged 16 and under from playing online games between midnight and 6 a.m. The law mainly targets PC online games as well as consoles with online features. It allows a two-year grace period for smartphone and tablet PC games before reconsidering if they should be included, as online game addictions on those platforms are not currently considered a serious problem.
- "PC방" is the usual transcription in South Korea. "피시방" and "피씨방" are transcription of exclusive use of Hangul. The former corresponds to South Korean standard orthography for writing loan words (외래어 표기법), but many South Koreans wrote as the latter when using Hangul exclusively.
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