Are internet cafe's common in Taiwan?

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When I came to Taiwan in 2010, internet cafes were much more popular than they are today.They are called 網卡 (Wang Ka) in Chinese and are basically places for guys and girls to play multiplayer PC games all night long while eating instant noodles and getting wired on sugary tea. These days,I suppose with mobile gaming, lots of them have lost their customer base and closed shop. But hanging out and gaming with friends in a wang ka is a great experience that seems to be mainly missing in the West.

As a Chinese language student in Taichung, a couple of buddies of mine used to shack up in the wang ka nearby campus and play StarCraft II together for hours. It started out with me and one buddy and grew into a little gamer crew of five of us.

Internet cafe's in Taiwan give young people a chance to get away from their parents, escape reality, and get lost in the game for a while without thinking about the pressures of school and work. These cafes are surprisingly comfortable, with cheap food and drinks for sale, private VIP rooms, big screens for watching movies, plush sofas and booths, and some even have showers. I've heard stories of people living in these internet cafes, probably due to gaming addictions.

Of course if you just need to spend a few hours doing your emails or getting work done, they are great for that too.

But for me, I'll always remember the Taiwanese internet cafes as cool little spots as where I rediscovered online gaming with friends as a 20-something year old, and from time to time I'm tempted to creep back in there, order a sugary tea, and fire up the old StarCraft II to see if I still have what it takes to beat the young South Korean kids.

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