A female Chinese WOW player and her broken reality

he yonghui

When Hye (何永惠) narrated her experience of deserting her husband and son for playing World of Warcraft on Zhihu (Chinese Quora), she didn’t expect many people would write her to express worship. She said those mails are ridiculous, but has nothing to say to these “fans”, for any words could be useless or even counter-productive, just like she wouldn’t accept any well-intentioned advice from others.

As countless Chinese online game players have to abandon their beloved games or reduce their gaming time to make a living, they have reasons to admire wayward and reckless behaviors of Hye. But Hye has to pay the price.

Graduated from a Rank-A university, Hye is different from the typical three-low gamers in China, but she still insists that she is a “loser”. She is not self-mocking, she has no real job, and is now saving money for divorce – she will have to fly to where she married and then get divorced.

Hye said WOW is a wonderful game, and all homemade games seemed dim to her after playing WOW. However, Hye denied flatly that her life is ruined by WOW. In her opinion, even if there were no WOW, she would play other online games, and even if there were no online game, she would indulge in other entertainments, such as reading novels or playing mahjong, yet she would still be a “selfish and lazy” woman. Anyhow, she just doesn’t like to work, and WOW is just a tool for killing time.

Hye once went to work when her baby was born and her husband lost his job at the same time, but when her mother-in-law tried to stop her from playing games after work and required her to take care of the baby, she couldn’t accept it and fled.

When talking about her unwillingness to live in a “positive” way, Hye sounds helpless. She said she just doesn’t have self-control. In consideration of her multiple suicide behaviors in the past, she seems to be depressed, although she doesn’t think so.

Or, she has been trapped into a long-time inertia of being idle. When Chinese youth get into university firstly, most of them suddenly become extremely negative in learning, and many get lost, a direct consequence of high-intensity studying in middle school. As a result, most university students in China spend a lot of time playing online games. However, after graduation, under pressure from parents, own living and other social factors, they would quit games or reduce gaming time, putting emphasis on work and family.

Hye is an exception, like a fish that escapes from the net of society, and when the society tried to catch her, she chose to escape and continue her own style of life.

Hye is not totally unambitious. As Hye majored in creative arts, she once thought about working for a good game company as an artist, but later found domestic companies are too mercenary to pursue actual quality of games, and as she had spent too much time on games, she didn’t have time to increase expertise and thus was not good enough for jobs in satisfactory companies.

reality is broken

Ironically, the “positive side” or the “flow” of games doesn’t seem to bring any power to Hye; instead, games just pushed her into a vicious circle, preventing her from being a better person.

Hye revealed that she is not playing any online games now, because she has no computer at present and has no appetite for mobile games (or because she is trying to kick the habit). She is now reading novels to kill time, when I said she can try to write a novel, she joked she would if she can live to 40. From this perspective, novels are better than games for her. When advised to be a game anchor, which is said to earn millions RMB a year in China at best, Hye let down her good look and sweet voice by saying no, because she cannot endure “distracting gaming experience for work”.

Hye is not alone. Generally, Chinese youth have to choose between skyrocketing house price in big cities and blind-alley jobs in small cities. For them, the distance from reality to dream is often huge, and games can easily act as a shelter from reality, yet most people following that Zhihu question on “people and online games” agree that only losers are addicted to online games.

Their “realities are broken”, but for many of them, games tend to make the realities worse; furthermore, the Chinese gaming industry doesn’t seem to be a good way out for these clever gamers.

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