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Korea GuideCulture

Why Koreans Don’t Play Games at Home - PC Bang

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Korea Guide
Culture
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Date
Aug 23, 2024
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PC Bangs, or PC Rooms, are an integral part of South Korean gaming culture. They offer high-performance computers for gaming at an affordable price, making them more popular than personal gaming PCs. PC Bangs played a significant role in the rise of esports in South Korea, with games like StarCraft and League of Legends gaining immense popularity. These establishments also serve as social hubs, offering a variety of activities, including gaming, watching movies, and buying concert tickets. PC Bangs provide a unique and immersive gaming experience that can't be replicated at home.
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Introduction

If you've spent some time in Korea, you've probably noticed a lot of signs with "PC" on them all around the city!
PC Bangs, literally translating to "PC Rooms," are a significant part of South Korean culture. They are internet cafés that cater specifically to gamers, offering high-performance computers equipped with top-tier components and peripherals. These establishments provide an affordable and accessible avenue for everyone to enjoy gaming, work, buy concert tickets and just have a hearty meal!
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The Birth of Esports in Korea

The popularity of PC Bangs in South Korea began to rise in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was largely due to the rapid growth of the country's broadband internet infrastructure, which made online gaming widely accessible. The first PC Bangs were established as internet cafés, but they quickly evolved into gaming centers as the demand for online gaming grew.
The rise of PC Bangs also facilitated the birth of esports in South Korea. StarCraft tournaments were among the first to be broadcast on television, paving the way for the professionalization of competitive gaming. Today, South Korea is considered a major player in the global esports scene, with professional leagues for games like League of Legends and Overwatch attracting millions of viewers worldwide.
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The success of esports in South Korea has been attributed to several factors. The widespread availability of high-speed internet and the popularity of PC Bangs certainly played a role. Additionally, the Korean government has supported the growth of esports, recognizing it as a legitimate sport and investing in the development of esports infrastructure.
Following StarCraft, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), like Lineage and Dungeon Fighter Online, became extremely popular. These games, which allow thousands of players to interact in a virtual world, were perfect for the social environment of PC Bangs.
More recently, games like League of Legends, Overwatch, and PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and FC Online (Fifa Online 4) have maintained the popularity of PC Bangs. These games, which feature competitive multiplayer gameplay, have large and dedicated fanbases in South Korea.

Why Koreans don’t have a Gaming Home PC

While gaming has become a mainstream worldwide, many Koreans prefer to play at PC Bangs instead of owning a personal gaming computer at home. The main reason behind this is the cost associated with a gaming PC. High-end gaming computers are expensive, and maintaining them can also be quite costly. Moreover, the fast-paced nature of technology means constant upgrades, which is another financial burden. Therefore, PC Bangs provide an economical solution, offering high-end gaming experiences at a fraction of the cost.

Not Only for Gaming!

PC Bangs are not only gaming spots. They offer a wide range of activities, from gaming to enjoying a variety of snacks and beverages. Additionally, with their 24/7 operation, availability of various food options, and engaging atmosphere, PC Bangs become irresistible place you don't want to leave.
Comfortable gaming chairs and high-performance PCs to enjoy movies or watch TV shows. This offers a pleasant change of scenery from the confines of small apartments.
PC Bangs to buy concert tickets. With the fierce competition for these tickets in Korea, having a fast, reliable internet connection and a high-performance computer can significantly increase your chances of securing a spot at a concert. It's not uncommon to see people at PC Bangs for this very reason, trying to gain an edge in the race for these precious tickets!

You can Order Food at Your Seat!

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One of the unique offers of a PC Bang is the convenience of ordering food right from your seat. Just like at home when your mom brings your food while you play—without nagging about how much time you spend all day at the computer—you can order a variety of meals and drinks without interrupting your gaming session. The process is simple: select your desired food or beverage from the menu, place your order, and a waiter will come and bring your dish right to your table. You can choose to pay upfront when ordering or let the waiter come take your cash or card once your order has been delivered. This service truly completes the PC Bang experience, making it a comfortable and convenient place for gamers to spend their time.
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How to Use a PC Bang

When you enter the PC Bang, you'll see a large red information screen where you can register or purchase a ticket to use the PCs. There are two options:
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Buy Non-Member Hourly Ticket

If you're a tourist just wanting to play a bit without committing or sharing your personal information, simply click on 비회원 (Non-Member), select how much time you want to spend (e.g., 1 hour), and pay using your preferred method. Then, walk to any of the free PCs, turn them on, and type in your number. If you have any questions, a staff member will be happy to guide you through the process. The steps might not be so apparent if this is your first time at a PC Bang.
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Sign Up as a Member

Register at the PC Bang. You'll need to provide some personal information, including a Korean phone number. Type in everything as required and remember your ID and password. Then, top up your account with the amount of time you want to spend. The next time you come back, you can still use your remaining minutes. Be aware that each PC Bang has its own registration process. If you switch between different PC Bangs, the registration process is not centralized, and you'll need to register again with a new account. Once you've registered, go to a PC, enter your credentials, and you're good to go!
 

PC Setup and Hardware

PC Bangs consistently feature state-of-the-art hardware whose assembly or purchase could cost thousands of dollars. This cutting-edge technology ensures a seamless, lag-free gaming experience across all modern games. It gives you a competitive edge by allowing you to play games at the highest resolution, boasting display refresh rates up to 165Hz. Some of these places even offer ultra-wide curved monitors for an enhanced gaming experience. Moreover, they are equipped with the best gaming keyboards, mouse and chairs.
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Play Your Games

Whether you're a fan of League of Legends, Overwatch, or PUBG, you'll find them all at a PC Bang. Plus, with their high-speed internet, you won't have to worry about lag disrupting your gaming sessions.
You're not limited to the pre-installed games and launchers at the PC Bang. You can also play your own Steam games by downloading them at the PC Bang. However, consider bringing an external hard drive for larger-sized games, as downloading them could take some time, despite the high-speed internet.
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Don’t forget to Log Out!

Before leaving the PC Bang, make sure to log out by pressing the dedicated button. If you simply turn off your computer without logging out, you will lose your hourly credits.
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Conclusion

In conclusion, PC Bangs are more than just gaming centers; they are a cornerstone of South Korean culture. They have shaped the way Koreans interact with games, contributed to the rise of esports, and provided a social venue for various activities. With their high-end equipment, affordable prices, and unique offerings, PC Bangs continue to attract both locals and tourists alike. Whether you're a gaming enthusiast or just looking for a unique cultural experience, visiting a PC Bang is a must when in Korea.
It's also worth mentioning that PC Bangs are not exclusively for gaming. On some days, I just go there to enjoy a snack while browsing YouTube and relaxing in the incredibly comfortable chairs. The unique atmosphere and the top-tier hardware, including mechanical keyboards, make it an enjoyable place to get some work done too!

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Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen)
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