Move over Starcraft, gamers go offline at Seoul’s board game cafes

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Move over Starcraft, gamers go offline at Seoul’s board game cafes

Tired of cramped thumbs and sore necks, many young people are ditching computer games in favor of board games.
Instead of going to PC rooms, they’re meeting at board game cafes.
Paperiyagi, meaning “story of paper,” is one of the growing number of board game cafes. Its owner, Yoon Ji-hyun, is a Seoul National University student and a retired professional computer gamer with three championship rings. Ms. Yoon says she missed human interaction with online games, so she turned to board games.
While competition is the word that best describes the atmosphere of PC bang rooms, cooperation captures the mood of board game cafes. That’s what drew Ms. Yoon to board games. And since launching Paperiyagi, she has discovered that lots of other people are drawn to them as well.
The Sinchon branch opened last fall and has enjoyed remarkable success. About 300 people drop by each day, gathering around 20 tables. The cafe stocks 150 games, mostly imported from Germany. There are about 10 staffers on duty to explain the rules and help get games going.
The place is so popular that it’s almost impossible to get a table without making a reservation, especially on weekends. Reservations can be made on the phone or through the cafe’s Web site,
Coffee, iced tea, sodas and snacks cost 1,000 to 1,500 won (80 cents to $1.25).
The original Paperiyagi is in Sillim-dong, near Seoul National University. Other branches can also be found in Daehangno and near Gangnam Station. Two more branches are slated to open by Korea University and in Noryangjin next month.

by Chung Soo-min
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