Dive into the world of multiplayer gaming from N. Korea

Trader's mobile phone
FILE PHOTO: A North Korean businessman using a cell phone in a local market. (Daily National Championships)

North Koreans have access to dozens of genres of multiplayer games, with some people even paying for features downloaded separately from the main games, Daily NK has learned.

A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Friday that there are about 30 types of multiplayer games available in the country, including horse racing, driving, Tetris, fishing, shooting, space exploration and school trips.

“People can play together via Bluetooth in a single classroom or a single room [within 10 to 15 meters of each other],” he said.

“Riding games are most popular with teens, space exploration games in their twenties, horse racing in their thirties and fishing games in their forties,” added the source.

As more and more North Koreans have smartphones, the country has stepped up its efforts to develop a range of applications as well. North Korean developers continue to create game apps, which are reportedly quite popular among smartphone users.

The source said people can’t just download and install good game apps on their phone. Instead, he said it’s “faster and better” to install the apps in “places where you can buy them, such as cell phone service centers or e-game service centers.”

Some North Koreans even pay for downloadable content (DLC) to increase the fun they can have with their games.

DLC refers to items, clothing, episodes, and other content that you can download in addition to the original game. Game companies sell DLC to make extra profit over that of the original game. The North Korean authorities also seem to be making a profit through the DLC model.

The source said that in the case of fishing games, the base game costs $7, but to add more types of fish, users will pay an additional $1 for each additional species, or $2 for bass weighing 10 kilograms or more, to name a few. not to mention other types of “high-end fish.”

However, as smartphone-based games become more and more popular in North Korea, it has led to the emergence of various social problems.

“Teenagers look at their phones when they walk down the road, when they are on the bus for field trips to revolutionary historic sites or revolutionary battlefields, and even when the tour guides give their lectures on revolutionary battlefields,” the source said.

“Because they look at their phones, they don’t greet the local elders even when they come across them,” he added.

Based on the source’s report, it appears that “smartphone zombies” — people who immerse themselves in their smartphones at the expense of everything around them — are commonplace in North Korea.

“Women in their 30s to 40s are in the market playing smartphone games when they have nothing to sell or have time to kill,” the source said. “They often ask each other what they play, and the trend today is to try the latest games for fun.”

The source said several companies in Pyongyang and the provinces are taking a leading role in developing game apps.

“Research labs under the State Affairs Commission, research labs under the Ministry of Information Industry, Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology, the Institute of Natural Science’s Automation Department, Computer Science Universities and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology’s Programming and Information Lab are able to develop apps once they are approved by the state,” he said.

Basically, the source’s report suggests that institutions other than existing specialized developers can create game apps as long as they get permission from the state.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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