Korea is a powerhouse in online gaming competitions, with PC Bangs being a “new-age” symbol of Korea, a large part of their dominance is attributed to it.
PC Bangs can be found in high density; with as many as 5 in a five minute radius, all equipped with around 100 high-end computers. There are even different sections of the Bang, with computers optimised for different gaming genres.
Even though it is rare for Korean households to not have a PC, people still go to the Bangs due to incentives such as premiums (better in-game rewards) and cheaper hourly rates ($0.50 – $1.00 AUD), resulting in them almost always being at maximum capacity 24/7.
Still viewed as a “Devil’s treat” by many parents, Korean students may escape here if they don’t wish to attend their after-school academics (Hakwon). What is astonishing to me is how Bangs are viewed as the prime place to go to socialise. As Korean apartments are very small, console games are not as popular. Thus, friends tend to hang out at PC Bangs as a way to socialise and sometimes even study.
However, Bangs being symbolic of Korea is not necessarily a good thing. It promotes unhealthy eating and paints Korea to be an unattractive destination for Western travellers. For people associated with online gaming communities such as Twitch though, Bangs would certainly be a lure.
Nevertheless, PC Bangs are certainly ingrained into Korean culture, and it would be hard pressed to find an internet cafe so vibrant and full of life in Western countries. This is why I wrote about them; they are a phenomenon that has a stigma in the Western world, but the norm among younger generations in Korea.
I cannot wait to visit.
Last photo credit: https://koreaintime.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/does-gender-matters-in-pc-bang/