China's Fantasy Craze - Online Games Blamed for Thefts, Suicides and Murders
From Guardian Unlimited: 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."
"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."
"Shanda Networking, the biggest online game company with at least 2 million users at any given time of the day, more than doubled profits last year.
The national leadership said recently that the country's biggest skill shortage was of internet game developers.
The information ministry estimates that China needs 600,000 online game technicians to fight off foreign competition."
"But there is also growing alarm about the social consequences. ... Newspapers are filled with reports of internet-game related crimes and tragedies, such as the suicide in January of a boy of 13 who left notes saying he was so addicted to online games that he had difficulty distinguishing between reality and virtual reality. "