Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The End of the World As We Know It

Today could well be the day that global industry sees the first link in a chain reaction that brings to its knees the modern global economy that we've come to know and love (or atleast I have).

You think I'm kidding? That such predictions are ephemeral prophet-of-doomery? Then you have underestimated the sway that the computer game company Blizzard holds over the population of South Korea.

It's a masterly plan for world domination, really. And it involves only 3 steps.

(1) Create a computer game that gradually becomes so addictive to a certain nation's people that it becomes an inextricable part of that nation's popular culture, to the extent that vast swathes of the population (of all ages) spend most of their free time playing it or watching professional players play it on television.

(2) Make sure that this nation is also a lynchpin in the global economy, being the home of substantial industry and major multinational companies.

(3) Release a sequel.

Indeed, the plan is so masterly and so foolproof, it is perfectly possible that it has been masterminded by this individual:

As this day dawns in South Korea, masses will haste to game retailers to obtain their long-awaited copy of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, in numbers that would shame the most carefully planned and co-ordinated Zerg rush. And then they will race home to install it and begin playing. Job absenteeism will skyrocket. The practice affectionately referred to as the "sickie" in Australia (but hitherto little known in Korea) will become the rule rather than the exception as the week progresses. Many companies will be oblivious as their CEOs will be themselves helplessly tied to their computer screens attempting to stem the relentless tide of Zerg.

Naturally, the snowball will begin in the automotive industry. The combined factories of Daewoo, Renault Samsung, Kia and Hyundai will fall silent. The output of high-tech gadgets, mobile phones, heavy industry, construction materials and training, not to mention insurance, by Samsung Group will rapidly grind to a halt. Does anyone honestly think this will not have any effect on the global economy? Samsung Electronics is, after all, the world's largest electronic company. Samsung Group as a whole has a GDP larger than some countries. In fact, the company itself is rated 35th largest economy in the world, larger than the entire economy of Argentina.

It may be argued that, being a multinational, it has many outposts in countries other than South Korea. This may be true, but all of these are directed by its headquarters in Seoul. And how can a body survive without a head?

Within a few months, this Starcraft-induced inactivity will start to have genuinely serious economic repercussions. Will the UN see the threat and bring its members' military might to bear against this invasion of Korea by a seductive foe, as it did once before? Or will the developed economies of the world look on in helplessness as their best-laid plans are undermined by a single computer game?

As I watch and wait with a certain morbid fascination for the coming economic collapse, I can only marvel at the genius and ingenuity that saw the potential for global domination in such an inoccuous package as this:

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