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Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Chinese gamer sentenced to life

A Shanghai online gamer has been given a suspended death sentence for killing a fellow gamer.

As BBC News report...

Qui Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan in the chest when he found out he had sold his virtual sword for 7,200 Yuan (473). The sword, which Mr Qui had lent to Mr Zhu, was won in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3. Attempts to take the dispute to the police failed because there is currently no law in China to protect virtual property.

Appeal plea

Buying and selling gaming artefacts such as imaginary weapons is a booming business on the web. The internet games section of Ebay saw more than $9m (5m) in trades in 2003. While China has no laws to deal with the theft of virtual property, South Korea has a section of its police force that investigates in-game crime.

Dragon sabre

According to the Chinese press, more and more gamers are seeking justice through the courts over stolen weapons and credits accumulated in games. In this case, Mr Zhu did offer to hand over the cash but Mr Qui lost patience and stabbed him with "great force" according to media reports. The suspended sentence given to Qui means he could spend the rest of his life behind bars, although it could be reduced to 15 years for good behaviour.

The parents of the dead man are planning to appeal against the sentence. "My son was only 26 when he died. He was sleeping when Qiu broke into his home. He was barely able to put his pants on before Qiu stabbed him," said his father, Zhu Huimin. "We want Qui to die, and immediately," he added.

The case has led to a debate about where the law stands on virtual property, such as the dragon sabre owned by Qiu. Following the case, associate law professor at Beijing's Renmin University of China said that such weapons should be deemed as private property because players "have to spend time and money for them".

But a lawyer for one Shanghai-based internet game company told a Chinese newspaper that the weapons were in fact just data created by games providers and therefore not the property of gamers.

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