The Love Child documentary premiered at the Asia Society this past Tuesday night in New York City. Directed by Valerie Veatch, and produced by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, this documentary raises the many problems and concerns of modern consumer internet technology. This movie chronicles the real-life case of a young couple in South Korea charged with leaving their baby daughter at home in neglect while they spent hours at internet cafés playing Prius, a multi-player internet based game. The baby died of malnutrition two months after birth, weighing less than what it weighed when first born.
The film takes viewers into present day Seoul, South Korea – one of the most digitally connected cities in the world, where easy access to high speed broadband and wi-fi is the norm. Coming later into developing a telecom infrastructure, South Korea was able to build their broadband systems with newer technologies than other industrialized nations.
What brought great wealth to the information technology sector also created unintended negative social consequences of internet addiction and misuse.
The documentary shifts back and forth between scenes of interviewing South Koreans of their views of this case, popular internet gaming cafes hangouts where people play for hours on end while consuming soft drinks ramen & cigarettes, and captivating clips from the Prius game that this couple was heavily engaged in.
The pace of the movie started out slow and excessively focused on digital clips from the Prius game, but the pace picks up as the viewer starts to see how the game unfolds and how it might feel like playing through the eyes of the protagonist couple. Prius rewards players who invest many hours in level advancements with a digital child avatar, whom the player must continually protect as it grows and transforms.
Concluding the screening, the audience raised many questions concerning the gaming industry, and the proliferation of digital culture.
Who is to be responsible for negative fall-outs caused by excessive gaming? What are the effects on children being exposed to excessive screen time on mobile device? What happens to gamers who develop emotional bonds to virtual characters they can no longer see when a game gets canceled?
An emerging digital culture could use some public discourse critiquing its change on culture and lifestyle, for the good and bad.
If you’re local papers aren’t covering these issues, write to them suggesting a guest article.
We’ll be compiling a list of digital culture documentaries, send us your suggestions on twitter using #digitalculturedocs.