Like many sports and hobbies, gamers have developed their own slang and terminology that often varies from game to game. But as online gaming has exploded in popularity in Chinese culture, gamer lingo has begun to bleed into popular speech.
While gaming lingo like “aggro,” “grind” and “respawn” have made their ways into the Oxford English Dictionary, they are still primarily gaming terms. However, online multiplayer games like DOTA 2 and World of Warcraft are so popular in China that gamer lingo has started changing how even non-gamers speak, Christina Xu writes for BoingBoing's Offworld. Now, terms like “PK” (or “Player Kill”), “Live-action Counter-Strike” and “Full Blood Resurrection” have almost become commonplace in the modern Chinese vernacular to describe things that have nothing to do with video games.
The Chinese video game market is worth almost $22 billion – and with about 517 million gamers in the country, that market is only growing. But while the government only recently lifted a ban on consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation, PC games have long been a major part of Chinese popular culture. Now, phrases like “PK,” which usually means to kill an opponent’s character in a video game, is used in singing competitions. “Live-action Counter-Strike” refers to an enormously popular first-person shooter, but is a term used to promote games like paintball or laser-tag. And “Full Blood Resurrection,” which originally referred to a gamer’s health bar being restored to full after an in-game death was recently used in Chinese newspapers to describe a giant, inflatable rubber duck in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor being reinflated after a mishap, Xu writes.
China’s relationship with online gaming also has a darker side. Gaming and internet addiction is a big problem, with an estimated 24 million internet addicts in the country, Massoud Hayoun writes for Al-Jazeera America. In some cases, as Danny Vincent from The Guardian reported in 2011, the government is profiting off of the virtual economies within online multiplayer games by forcing prisoners to become “gold farmers,” spending long hours collecting virtual gold through basic, monotonous in-game tasks that can be sold in bulk to gamers around the world for real money. In 2011, it was estimated that 80% of gold farmers around the world are based in China, with about 100,000 people farming gold full-time,Vincent writes.
But even if the worlds that gamers play in are virtual, the effect they have on the real world is undeniable.