Problems with Internet Cafes and Online Games in Taiwan

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Problems with Internet Cafes and Online Games in Taiwan

Asian countries have never been unfamiliar with gaming software. From the very beginning when Japanese companies developed various game councils, Asian countries, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, became large markets for computer and video games. In addition to the spread of gaming system technology in Asia, countries like Taiwan, China, and South Korea that have abundant labor resources have developed sufficient, but inexpensive computer components and software in recent decades. Online games have existed in Asia since more than a decade ago, but did not come to the mainstream of software development until early 1997. Online games became mainstream with the introduction of the Internet café. Although some reports show that the appearance of Internet café and online games seems to promote the development of computer software design in Taiwan and increase the revenue for several computer component companies, it brings new social problems. There exists a management crisis of the cafés, and censorship or copyright problems with software. While the Taiwanese government is trying to eliminate the problems by putting more restraints on this modern business, it also has the dilemma not to violate people’s freedoms and rights. In this paper, I will first discuss Internet cafés in Taiwan and the famous (or infamous) online game known as “Heaven.” Then, I will present some ethical issues brought about by this new high-tech business and the opinions voiced regarding the pros and cons of the governmental regulations. Finally, I will also discuss my points of view concerning to this matter.

In 1997, the South Korean government, in an attempt to stimulate the growth of its economy, encouraged the development of online gaming software. In order to accommodate gamers, the Internet café, which originated in England, became one of the most profitable businesses in South Korea. According to Business Weekly, there were around four thousand Internet cafés in South Korea in the year 1999, but the number has mushroomed to twenty thousand in the year 2000. Moreover, the estimated revenue for Internet cafés in South Korea by the year 2001 grew to $1.4 billion U.S. dollars. Due to the popularity of this modern business, the Taiwanese gaming industry decided to follow and develop online games. So far, there are around 8 million Internet users in Taiwan, and approximately 40% of them are gamers.
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