A Shanghai online game player appeared in court
Tuesday for allegedly murdering a rival who he claimed sold his
Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court was told
that Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest
after he was told Zhu had sold his "Dragon Saber" weapon used in
the popular online game Legend of Mir III.
Qiu and a friend jointly won the virtual weapon
online last February, and lent it to Zhu who then sold it for 7,200
Qiu went to the police to report him but was told
the virtual object was not considered real property, so was not
protected by law.
Zhu promised to repay the cash but an angry Qiu
lost patience and attacked him at his home, stabbing him in the
left chest "with great force" and killing him, the court heard.
Qiu gave himself up to police and, on the advice of
his lawyer, pleaded guilty to intentional injury, claiming he never
meant to kill Zhu.
The public prosecutor told the court: "As virtual
property is not protected by any law, Zhu was faultless in this
The court has yet to issue its verdict, but whether
he is found guilty of murder or intentional injury he could receive
a capital sentence.
Qiu would be able to appeal to the city's higher
court for a second trial, whose findings would be conclusive.
The case has added to the dilemma over the legal
status of ownership of virtual goods, including gaming weapons.
Qiu's is the second high profile case involving
this issue to come before the courts.
In November 2003, a 23-year-old gamer from north
Province sued Beijing-based online game provider Arctic Ice
Technology after he found all the weapons and points he had amassed
for months playing the game Red Moon had been stolen.
Now more and more gamers are seeking justice over
stolen weapons and credits.
"The armor and swords in games should be deemed
private property as players have to spend money and time on them,"
said Wang Zongyu, an associate professor at the Law School of
Beijing's Renmin University of
"These virtual objects are often tradable among
players," he added.
But other experts have called for caution.
"The 'assets' of one player mean nothing to others
as they are by nature just data created by game providers," said a
spokesperson from a Shanghai-based online gaming company.
Gaming companies in Shanghai, the city with the
most players, are planning to set up a dispute system where
aggrieved gamers can seek recourse.
Shang Jiangang, lawyer for the newly established
Shanghai Online Game Association, said: "The association has
drafted some measures to facilitate the settlement of disputes over
He added: "If any virtual theft occurs, players
will be able to report it to the operator, who will then sort it
out according to the circumstances."
(China Daily March 30, 2005)