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Youth find world of wonders on web
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-06 10:24

Chat-rooms, BBS, QQ and "The World of Legend" are such an integral part of Net-savvy young people's lives that some say they would rather die than live without the Internet.

Cyber chat

In large cities like Beijing and Shanghai people who don't cyber chat are considered outdated.

Nearly 70 per cent of Chinese Internet users enjoy chatting on the Net, a recent survey on major Chinese websites shows.

China now has 2,536 Chinese-language chat websites, and 12,592 online columns related to the bulletin board system (BBS), discussions, postings and forums - all virtual places where Internet surfers speak their minds.

Pang Ling, a student at Nanjing University, said all 30 students in her class chat on the Net as do most people on campus.

Compared with having a chat with friends face-to-face or on the telephone, online chat provides users with more opportunities to meet strangers.

"While chatting online, you can keep your identity a secret. Nobody knows who you are and few people really care. You can say whatever you like. It is much freer and safer than talking to some of your friends," said Pang.

Psychologists point out that in present-day China, the large majority of urban youth are from single-child families. They feel lonely and helpless when confronted with difficulties and feel the need to communicate with their peers.

"Regardless of identity and career, people on the Net are equal. I read it this way: A friend online is a friend indeed," said Wang Xia, a 26-year-old employee of a multinational consulting company in Beijing. "When talking with someone face to face, you have to heed your manners and choose language that will not hurt his or her feelings. But on the Net, you can truly be yourself, and absolutely frank with the guy," she said.

"So I trust people on the Internet and often share my feelings with strangers online," she added.

OICQ is the first and most popular cyber chatting tool in China. More than 20 million users utilize it every day, sending a total of 1 billion messages. QQ's peak simultaneous online users usually exceed 6 million.

Online games

The "Legend," China's most popular online game, had attracted 80 million registered users by the end of 2003 and the number of current users exceeded 600,000, across 22 provinces and in over 40 major cities

Online games have become an essential part of online entertainment and have made a great impact on Internet users.

A survey carried out by China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) on Internet users who play online games regularly or occasionally shows that every week they play online games for 11.3 hours on average and 88.8 per cent said playing online games is good for relaxation and entertainment.

When he came across "The World of Legend" game by chance one year ago, Yan Jie did not expect that his life would change.

"I have met a lot of friends since I began to play Legend. We can chat together, fight together and play together. You will never feel lonely," said Yan. "Your life in 'The Legend' is so real that sometimes you can't even distinguish from real life."

Chen Tianqiao, CEO & president of Shanghai-based Shanda Networking, was awarded "The Economic Young Elite of the Year" by China Central Television(CCTV) in 2003.

Under his charge, the virtual game "Legend" has become a real legend in the market place. Another notable online site in China is called "Ourgame", an integrated online entertainment service provider focusing on online games, especially online card and board games.

Founded in 1998 with only five original card and board games, the site now has 30 games, which include not only traditional card and board games but also popular counter-strike games. "Ourgame" now has 700,000 registered paying members. It is becoming the largest online game website in the world, some analysts say.

Li Ling, a newspaper editor, likes to play military chess on the "Ourgame" site.

"Military chess has been my favourite game since I was a little boy. Before 'Ourgame' appeared, I had to find a partner when I wanted to play military chess. It's quite difficult to find the suitable people at a suitable time. Luckily, 'Ourgame' provides a convenient platform for me to play with others online at anytime," he said.

Fast and convenient, online games provide young people with an ideal way of "killing time," although some parents complain their children are spoiled by the Net.

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