As you can tell from my many Overwatch posts, I am an avid PC gamer. I have been forever blessed (or scarred) by growing up adjacent to my brother’s passion for building wondrously expensive desktops and all-day binges of X-Com. I will forever shun the dreggs of console gaming for the convenience and comfort of the PC.
Which is why, just a week before moving to South Korea, I had to say goodbye to my eight year old desktop PC that I upgraded a year ago to play Dragon Age: Inquisition. We shared many blue-screens of death, coffee spills into the fan, and League of Legends defeats together. I bought a new laptop that would be able to handle Overwatch despite overheating constantly.
That’s when I discovered the many joys of Korea: PCbangs (PC방.) The word 방 means room in Korean, which is why karaoke rooms are called noraebangs (노레방.) PCbangs are just one large room filled with top of the line desktop computers, fitted with fancy Logitech mice, and back-lit, mechanical keyboards. Each computer is stocked with a litany of popular Korean games with only a few English language games. You can reset the language from any Blizzard game to English by going Battlenet Launcher’s settings. Most PCbangs also have the American League of Legends client installed.
I expected PCbangs to be more expensive, but the average cost per hour equates to about $1.00 an hour or less if you purchase hours in bulk. These hours are stored on to your own account with its own username and password, so don’t feel pressured to expend all your playtime in one sitting. The businesses also offer a bevy of convenience store grade snacks and beverages for a modest up charge. They sometimes offer freshly made beverages and, even more rarely, made-to-order foods like fried rice. You can even order these food items directly from your computer through a desktop widget. These often feature pictures of the food you’re about to order, which is a great boon to all of the fellow waygooks whose Korean language skills aren’t so great.
There are many perks to playing games in PCbangs. Many games have a deal with these businesses to give extra perks to players such as extra experience points, better loot drops, or in-game cosmetic items. You’ll have to play on the Korean/Asian server to get these benefits though. Also, many games that you typically need to pay for are free. For example: If you create a Korean Blizzard account you may play the game for free at PCbangs. This almost always requires a Korean cellphone number, however.
I adore PCbangs. The sense of camaraderie I love the sense of camaraderie I feel being surrounded by groups of nerds. Granted, it does get pretty annoying that they often reek of cigarettes, the person next to you being loud, or someone eavesdropping on your poor game performances. But the xp boosts, high-end pcs, free games, and camaraderie make the whole experience worth it. Leave a comment if you want me to make a step by step tutorial on how to sign up for a PCbang account or how to create a Korean Blizzard ID.