By Le Yanna, Nguyen Thi Thanh Xuan
HANOI, June 2 (Xinhua) -- A small group of Vietnamese youngsters yelled out excitedly here on Wednesday afternoon after a blue window displaying the "Victory" in a gold font popped up on the computer screens in front of them.
The five-people team, led by a Hanoian high school student Dao Tuan, defeated their distant competitors in a match of the Chinese game named League of Legend (or LOL), the most popular multiplayer, online battle arena games in Vietnam now.
Tuan and his friends form part of the LOL's hardcore community, where millions of dedicated gamers not only play the game, but also are engrossed in studying the stories behind each characters. They meet regularly for social bonding.
"Things like teams and rivals make us feel connected, while fighters stepping out of legendary tales act as mood motivations," Tuan told Xinhua, while playing the LOL in a large-scale gaming house on Cau Giay Street, Hanoi.
Over 36 million gamers, out of 50 million Internet users in Vietnam, secure the country's second-biggest position in terms of online game revenue in Southeast Asia, the world's fastest growing game market.
According to local game news platform Gamek, revenue from Vietnam's video game market totaled 237 million U.S. dollars last year, up 28.4 percent compared to 2015. In recent years, it has grown annually by between 20 and 30 percent.
A young population structure and favorable access to the Internet have helped nourish the game industry. Gaming houses have been upgraded frequently to serve the increasingly big demand of youngsters. Some design and decorate rooms like outdoor arenas or playgrounds.
Quan, owner of the 200-computer gaming house on Cau Giay Street, told Xinhua that its peak time lasts for nearly half a day, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. "During weekends, you cannot find a vacant computer in my place," he said.
Quan's other game business in the northern port city of Hai Phong is also netting him a small fortune after its grand opening a few months ago.
Many gamers and gaming house owners have said that Chinese video games have dominated the Vietnamese market for years. Such games accounted for over 95 percent of the total launched in 2016.
"Among 293 games debuting last year, fewer than 15 were from other countries than China," said Pham Nhu Duy, director of the Media Department of local leading game publisher Soha Games.
Duy, also a professional gamer, stated that Chinese games are particularly popular in Vietnam because there are cultural and historical similarities between the two countries. In addition, China has offered a wide variety of games with competitive prices, he noted.
"Vietnamese youngsters usually see a lot of Chinese movies and soap operas, which makes them very familiar with all the themes and fantasy elements in the Chinese games," Duy explained.
In 2016, Chinese stories like three kingdoms and "wuxia" (martial arts) novels made up roughly 30 percent of the games' themes across the market. In its latest report, Gamek forecasts that these themes will remain appealing to players without signs of decline in the near future.
Although it would seem that potential to enter the lucrative market remains, competition for game publishers is cut-throat. Last year, 148 game titles were dropped, 75 publishers of which went out of business in less than a year.
To dedicated players like Dao Tuan, it is crucial that the games do not cost him a fortune.
Having tried many games, Tuan has found that Chinese ones are the friendliest and most affordable to him. "Basic needs such as costumes and weapons can be met without paying extra cash," Tuan said, moving his fingers skillfully over the computer's keys.