China may only be starting to get popular online RPGs, but already many gamers in that country are taking them very seriously. In Shanghai, a dispute over ownership of a virtual sword lead one gamer to stab another to death in real life.
Qiu Chengwei received the death sentence this week for the killing of fellow gamer Zhu Caoyuan. The two had been questing together in The Legend of Mir III online RPG. After many weeks of trying, the two were rewarded with a legendary sword that is unique in the game world. Qui was actually given ownership of the sword, but Zhu borrowed it.
When Qui asked for the sword back, he learned that Zhu had put the item up for auction and sold it for 7,200 renminbi (US$870). Zhu refused to compensate Qui or apologize for the sale. Qui went to police but was told that the theft of online property was not enforceable under Chinese law.
Qui tracked down Zhu at his home and reportedly used a real sword to stab him through the heart, killing him.
Under sentencing guidelines, Qui will likely not die for his crimes. If he behaves in prison and commits no new crimes, his sentence will be commuted to life in prison, which means he could be out of jail in about 15 years.