Last week, a gaming addiction story about a young college couple caught fire on the Chinese internet. These stories are common; generally, the boy has lost interest in the relationship because he’s deep in some game and the girl is pleading with net users for a way to snap him out of it. Last week’s story had a twist: desperate to win back the affections of her DotA-addicted man, the girl plans to challenge him in a winner-takes-all solo round. If she wins, he quits the game forever. If he wins, he doesn’t. So instead of asking friends how to win him back, she’s digging online for tips and tricks, training to become a skilled DotA player so that she can take down her boyfriend once and for all.
Of course, it’s probably not worth it, as the guy sounds like a total jerk (he treats her badly whenever he loses, and makes her bring him food while he’s playing, etc.). And given the extremely vague nature of the story — no names, no locations — it could just be a fabrication. But it has caught the attention of the gaming community in China and led to some interesting revelations. A QQ Games user, for example, conducted a reader poll and found that more than 30 percent of respondents would consider giving up their girlfriends for DotA. Seemingly at odds with that finding, the site also reports that nearly 80 percent of readers “sometimes” or “often” play DotA to escape loneliness. No offense to DotA players — I play plenty of games myself — but sitting alone in your room thrashing some random stranger online is not a way to combat loneliness. In fact, that might be the actual definition of loneliness.
The story has also attracted plenty of comments, including more than a few jokes about the chances of the girl getting addicted herself, and about the potential of DotA matches as a conflict resolution tool in relationships. But many of the readers have expressed admiration for the tenacious girlfriend. “If I had a girlfriend like this, I’d love her forever,” one commenter wrote.
Gaming addiction in China is no joke, and whether this particular story is true or not, it has spread so widely precisely because it resonates with people. It’s good that this story has brought attention to both gaming addiction and more generally to the ways in which our digital lives can affect our relationships in real life. So if you’re reading this, DOTA girl, here’s my advice: get really good at DotA, kick your boyfriend’s ass in the game, and then dump his ass in real life. You can find someone who is nicer to you to play your rounds of DotA with.