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Thursday, March 31, 2005
  When Gamers go mad
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Harsh reality of China's fantasy craze: "When Qiu Chengwei reported the theft of his 'dragon sabre' he was laughed out of the police station. So the 41-year-old online games player decided to take matters into his own hands.

Swapping virtual weapons for a real knife, he tracked down the man who had robbed him of his prized fantasy possession and stabbed him to death.

Mr Qiu is now facing a possible death sentence in a Shanghai court case which has highlighted concern about the social, psychological and economic impact of one of China's fastest-growing industries.

Article continues
A spate of suicides, deaths by exhaustion and legal disputes about virtual possessions have been blamed on internet role-play games, which are estimated to have more than 40 million players in China.

Mr Qiu's favourite game was Legend of Mir III, a South Korean game which is a huge hit throughout Asia.

It took him hours in front of a computer to win the dragon sabre, one of the game's most valuable weapons.

He used a feature of the game to lend it to Zhu Caoyuan, who reportedly sold it on without his permission for 7,200 renminbi (£480).

Although this is considerably more than the average monthly wage, the police told Mr Qui that they could do nothing because the law does not recognise virtual property."
 
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