Analysts say online games are not only recession-proof but can even get a boost from an economic slump, because people stay longer at home and have more time on their hands to play.
The so-called "massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)" typically takes months of extensive time investment, as a user -- say, a warrior or sorcerer in the fantasy world -- builds skills and takes on adversaries in a series of missions.
Online gamers' profiles are different from buyers of Nintendo's Wii consoles or DS handheld players, which have proved a roaring success with easy-to-play games for a broader population.
"I don't think (online multiplayer games) get impacted at all, because people who play them are addicts," said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan. "Losing their jobs makes them more likely to play because they have more time to play."
"These days more people stay late in the evening playing games," said Jung, a manager at a crowded Web cafe in downtown Seoul. "I think they don't have other places to go."
In South Korea, online gaming quickly spread to become a social phenomenon in the early 2000s in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, which left many young men unemployed.