Today, the BBC have reported that a Chinese online gamer has been given a suspended death sentence following the murder of a fellow online gamer.
Gamer Qui Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan in the chest after learning that Zhu had sold his virtual sword for around £475. Qui had won the Dragon Sabre sword in the popular Korean MMO, Legend Of Mir 3. He had loaned it to Mr. Zhu, only to later learn that Mr. Zhu had sold his treasured posession.
After losing patience with Mr. Zhu, Qui broke in to his house late at night and stabbed him to death.
Due to the nature of suspended sentences, the sentence given to Mr Qui may not result in the death penalty and it is possible that he could be released after 15 years for good behaviour.
It is understood that the dispute was taken to the police, but nothing could be done because there is no law to protect virtual propperty in China. However, in South Korea, they have a dedicated section of its police force that investigates in-game crime, such as theft of virtual propperties.
According to the article
, Zhu's father spoke out about their plans to appeal against the sentence stating the family's intentions: "We want Qiu to die, and immediately."
There is growing debate in the Chinese authorities about who actually owns these virtual propperties that are won in online games, and we feel that the debate will continue for some time.