The world of online game addicts in Ho Chi Minh City becomes even more vibrant late at night than during daytime though authorities ban cybercafés from offering the service after 10:00 pm.
The shops operate like an ‘underworld’ behind closed doors to evade law enforcement agencies.
At 10:00 pm, all cybercafés are required to be close and clients to leave the front door, but their motorbikes are still kept.
The clients are shown the way to the entrance via the back door to avoid law enforcers.
All well-equipped online game shops visited by VnExpress newspaper reporters were operational the entire day even though they are prohibited from opening between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am.
At a shop named Cao Toc (High Speed) on D2 Street, Binh Thanh District, a group of three young men were surfing Facebook and listening to music to wait for their last and fourth member before embarking on an ‘online mission’ in a game one day. It was nearly 10:00 pm then.
The group members always sit next to one another to play online games for easy support in their cyberfights.
If an enemy appears in a certain game, the whole group can join hands to drive it away.
Duong, the last member of the group, arrived half an hour late. He was nicknamed ‘Monster’ because of his full energy.
Duong goes to school in the morning, works for a real estate firm in the afternoon, and keeps vehicles for a restaurant in the evening.
But he can still manage to have time to go to the gym, sometimes win academic scholarships, and play online games overnight.
“I can manage my time although I play games a lot,” Duong said.
“I review my lessons in the evening when I keep a watch on motorbikes at the restaurant.
“I often play online games 4-6 hours every night, at times up to seven hours when joining my team.
“I play games and sleep overnight in the armchairs here. No extra cost is charged. My boarding room is so narrow.
“My teammates are all online game addicts.”
When sitting in a group, they screamed loudly wearing headphones over their ears, which annoyed another group near them so they began quarreling.
The sturdy ‘Monster’ Duong intervened to settle the conflict. Both groups only agreed to stop bickering and go home at 4:00 am.
Duong and his teammate, Huy, stepped into the shop and fell down to their armchairs to sleep immediately.
Not far from Cao Toc is another shop, Xgame, on D1 Street, Binh Thanh. It was so crowded at 1:00 am.
Xgame is favored by both students and vendors who come there to play online games and sleep for free.
Nguyen Khoa, an online game shop on Tran Quang Dieu Street in District 3, has two different sections that charge ‘business class’ and ‘VIP’ prices.
Entering an air-conditioned ‘VIP’ room, a VnExpress journalist was almost choked with cigarette smoke.
Streets lined with many online game shops in Ho Chi Minh City and familiar to game addicts include Tran Quang Khai in District 1, Tran Quang Dieu in District 3, Nguyen Trong Tuyen in Phu Nhuan District, Huong Vuong in District 5, and those in the Bac Hai residential area in District 10.
Many of the shops are big and well equipped, with some even located in high buildings. Each shop has a parking lot for hundreds of motorbikes.
The shops have high-speed computers that boast large monitors, with a fast Internet connection.
In addition, these cybercafés also have bathrooms and kitchens to serve all clients playing games overnight.
Rice, instant noodles, milk tea, and coffee are regular items on the menus of the shops, serving exclusively their game players.
Swallowing down instant noodles by her computer, Thuy, a young woman, explained why she prefers playing online games at night.
“At night, you can easily catch a tartar. It’s quick to elevate your playing level by training with them,” she said.
“Internet connections are faster as well.
“And you won’t have to face ‘childish’ newcomers then.”
Clients are entitled to prepayment or post-payment when playing games at those shops.
Normally at VND8,000 (32 U.S. cents) an hour, a prepaid client is given an account and his computer will automatically shut down when time is over.
For the combo payment option, clients are allowed to play continually from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am.
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Some shops offer a combo price to overnight players at VND50,000 ($2.2) in ‘VIP’ rooms or VND40,000 ($1.8) for the ‘business class’ service.
To play overnight, players are required to provide personal information such as their full name and address.
The owner of the shop the VnExpress reporter visited the other day still accepted what he provided him with even though the personal particulars were wrong.