The Wuhan Morning Post (via QQ Games) brings us another tale in the annals of Chinese game-addicted youngsters behaving badly. Qian Zhan, a former college student in Wuhan, apparently became so addicted to online games that his missed classes and homework piled up to the point that he couldn’t graduate. Staying on in Wuhan and doing makeup work in an attempt to earn his degree, Qian lied to his parents about his gaming habit and told them that he had graduated on time and was working for a software company. When his father learned of the lie and headed to Wuhan to confront him, the presumably humiliated Qian Zhan fled.
That was three years ago, and his parents haven’t heard from him since.
The addiction began in 2005 when Qian, who was studying software, began making frequent trips to the local internet cafe to “check information and study.” This seemed logical to his family — after all, he was studying computers — but actually Qian Zhan was immersing himself in web games and, like the kids in so many of these horror stories before him, found it difficult to quit.
Qian Zhan is still missing, and it’s not clear whether he’s still playing games and is just too ashamed to see his parents or whether there is something else going on. His story and others like it are often used in China as evidence of the evils of online gaming, but I think Qian’s flight might also be understood as a reminder that Chinese parents can sometimes be a bit too harsh when it comes to punishing gamers (see: gaming addiction boot camps).
Obviously, when games have delayed your college graduation, the problem is probably serious enough to warrant a dramatic solution. But did Qian run away in part out of fear that his parents would lock him away in one of China’s military-style boot camps? Until he turns up, there’s no way to know. But while we’re telling horror stories about the perils of online gaming, it’s probably relevant to recall that fear of extreme responses from parents are probably part of the reason some children hide their gaming habits while things slowly get out of hand.