Chinese net cafes are a double-edged sword. In a way, they're a great place to play games, consume copious amounts of ramen and junk food, but at the same time they're total s**t-holes. The Chinese government is sick of them and now it wants to change what internet cafes are all about.
Since February of this year, the Chinese government has been secretly trying to bring up the standards of what passes for internet cafes in the country. The Chinese Ministry of Culture (yes, that's a real thing) is starting off with a few select internet cafes in Beijing, Shanghai, Luoyang and Changsha. These pilot cafes will be turned into "higher level" establishments.
So far there's no clue as to what that exactly means, except that the cafe's will no longer be dreary dark smoke-filled rooms with computers. Instead, they're to resemble more like an internet cafe and coffee house hybrid, which I guess is literally where the name internet cafe comes from; a cafe where you can surf the internet!
Photos taken by various Chinese media outlets have shown a drastic change in the net cafes. Gone are the dark walls and florescent lighting, replaced by bright lights and cream-coloured walls. Tall chairs and black computers are replaced by white computers and sofa seats. These special net-cafes don't allow smoking, which is definitely a good thing. One internet cafe in Beijing even installed a clean air machine!
It's unclear why the Chinese government is experimenting with net cafes right now. According to the Beijing municipal department of culture, over 11 per cent of all the internet cafes in the city had suffered operating losses in the last year. Overall, net cafes in China are on a decline.
The Chinese news wire service Xinhua reports that government is also currently experimenting with book bars, movie bars, and watering holes.