The parents of Zhang Xiaoyi, the 13-year-old boy who jumped to
his death from a tall building in 2004 in honor of his heroes from
an online computer game, are suing the game's distributors for
100,000 yuan (about US$12,500) in compensation.
In the indictment submitted to Chaoyang District People's Court
of Beijing, the parents have also demanded that Aomeisoft clearly
marks the violence content on the packaging and in the instructions
for "Warcraft: Orcs and Humans" for its sale in China.
The court has accepted the file and put it on record, according
to an official with the court.
Zhang Chunliang, one of attorney agents for the case, said they
had brought the case to court for public good.
Zhang Xiaoyi, a brilliant junior high school student from
Tianjin, committed suicide on the morning of December 27, 2004
after playing the game for 36 hours consecutively in a game
He plunged from the top of the 24-story building in which he
lived with his family, leaving behind a letter with the reason for
his suicide: to join the heroes of the game he worshipped.
After examining his school records, his 80,000-character diary
about online games and the suicide note, a hospital in Beijing
concluded that "Zhang had excessively indulged in unhealthy games
and contracted serious Internet addiction before his death."
The incident caused public outcry over the harmful effect of
addictive games on minors and triggered calls to limit the sale of
such games. The parents brought an action against the developer of
the game in the United States, but a court in Tianjin refused to
put the case on record.
"The game is classified T-level in the United States which means
it is suitable for only people above 13 years old. But we had no
idea of that," the indictment says. Zhang Xiaoyi had played
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans for two years before his suicide.
The indictment demanded Aomeisoft inform the Chinese public that
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans is classified T-level in the United
States, meaning it is not suitable for people under 13 years
It also called for a warning to be printed on its packaging
noting that "playing games excessively harms health".
"Many foreign countries have established strict game
classification systems to indicate which games are certain for
which age groups. China should also establish such a system," said
Zhang Chunliang, who is also a noted researcher of Internet
According to a report on Internet addiction among Chinese
youngsters, issued by the China Youth Association for Internet
Development in November last year, 13.2 percent of China's 16.5
million young netizens have contracted Internet addiction. Of
juvenile crimes, more than 70 percent are induced by Internet
In one of the cases, a 16-year-old high school student in Shanxi
province murdered his uncle to get money for playing online games
in July 2003.
"Just as power plants must take responsibility for discharging
pollutants, game companies should take responsibility for the
consequences of spiritual pollution caused by their products," said
He said parents of 64 children addicted to online games had
entrusted him to sue relevant parties over the harm inflicted on
"Young people are the future pillars of society. If they indulge
in the Internet and neglect their school work today, what can they
do tomorrow?" said Zhang.
(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2006)