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Car racing games for console platforms these days can give you a graphic sense of driving, with vibrating control pads and steering wheel accessories.
But what is so attractive about racing on the PC?
I found that I was asking myself this question at 2 a.m. while chatting with two hairdressing assistants, who were busy working on both sides of my head, applying foul-smelling liquid for a perm at a 24-hour beauty salon.
According to the girl, the boy working with her spent too much of his time sneaking off to the nearby PC room, another 24-hour place.
“Have you played Kart Rider yet? It’s so fun, I’ve stopped playing Starcraft,” he said, admitting that he went to the PC room with a senior hair designer to play the game.
“Who plays Starcraft anymore?” the girl piped in.
Kart Rider, with the subtitle “Crazy Racing” (not “Krazy,” for some reason), is an easy game that you can play online. It only requires pressing five keys ― the four arrow keys and the control key. Given this easy way to play, you can then choose from five themes: The Icerion Land, Floopy Forest, Boomhill Village, Cemetery and Zerostone Mine. There are several different race courses for each setting.
You select a track and open up a room for other players to come in ― when everyone is ready, the race begins.
The fun thing is that you can team up with friends or make friends online by participating in guilds. Also, racing takes more than just driving skills. You have to effectively avoid bombs that other players can shoot at you. These bombs aren’t explosives, but rather “item bombs” such as magnets or water bombs. A water bomb, for instance, will create a huge bubble which causes the target’s car to float on it. This, of course, delays the player.
There is also a single-player mode, which is like a quest in which you are given a track and a time limit ― you basically have to finish within the time limit to go on to the next level. But few people play the single-player mode.
To be frank, I really couldn’t understand why the hairdresser’s assistant was so addicted to the game, since it was so simple. Perhaps that was why he liked it so much. The graphics are nice, but not terribly original, although racing in the icy caves and cemeteries is a bit more interesting in terms of settings. If you are scared about item bombs, you can choose games that just compete for speed. For game spendaholics, there is also a shop in which you can buy different racing car models, or different colors other than the default red, purple and blue. The most recent update is an old-fashioned buggy.
The game also features a special mode in which you can minimize the game window so it isn’t as conspicuous on the screen. The developer, Nexon, said that it made this feature because many office workers who played the game didn’t want to be caught by their bosses.
That probably gives you a vague idea of how many Koreans are playing this game. Whenever I logged on (even during work hours) I never had trouble finding a game to join.
Let’s just say that Kart Rider is the new alternative to Solitaire for office workers. If you see someone in your office leaning from left to right, he or she is probably playing Kart Rider.

by Wohn Dong-hee
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