One thing I have noticed a lot in my travels over the past month is the predominance of bands of kids (preteen and teen) that populate internet access centers in the more expensive parts of Asia, obsessively involved in multi-user gaming (and multi-user screaming). I have so far noted their existence at multiple locations in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and now Singapore. I have NOT noticed their existence in India, or Thailand (or mainland China for that matter), but perhaps this is just my good fortune or a lack of disposable income and time in these places for this demographic.
These groups are marked by several interesting features:
1. They become VERY wrapped up in their sport of choice, screaming and yelling at each other all the time. This has led me to realize that these internet centers can be thought of not only as “Libraries” (as i like to think of them) but also as “(Xtreme) Sports and Recreation centers”.
2. The coarse language of choice for these youngsters is English. As they are winning or losing or noting some monster, alien, or blood stain on the screen, they routinely yell out to their fellows choice sayings such as “Got you, bitch motherfucker!”, “Fuck you!”, “Shit! Fuck!”, “Ass fuck, you bitch!” and many, many universal “Ooooohhhh!!”s. They then switch back to their native languages for (one assumes) more normal language about logistics or whose mom just called on the cell phone.
3. They seem to inhabit these places at all hours. I merely have the misfortune to be here during school holiday, I suppose.
4. The thing that has changed since I was a kid is the ascendancy of the Internet. This has had the effect of moving the old arcades of my childhood into these Internet centers and cybercafes.
5. With one exception (and mirroring my childhood) these gatherings are exclusively male. I have only seen one girl among the various groups. To her credit(?) blow by blow, she cursed and screamed with the best of them.