CHINA / Regional

Parents sue game distributor over son's suicide
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-12 11:38

The parents of Zhang Xiaoyi, a 13-year-old boy who jumped to his death from a high-rise in 2004 in honor of his heroes from a computer game, are suing the distributor for 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) in compensation.

In the indictment submitted to Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing, the parents have also demanded Aomeisoft - the China mainland distributor of the game, which was created by California-based Blizzard Entertainment - clearly indicate Warcraft III is a violent game.

The court has accepted the case.

Zhang Chunliang, the parents' lawyer, said the case was for the public good.

Zhang Xiaoyi, a junior high school student from Tianjin with excellent grades, committed suicide on December 27, 2004, after playing Warcraft for 36 hours consecutively at a game hall.

He plunged from the top of the 24-story building where he lived. His suicide note said he wanted 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 was addicted to the Internet."

The incident caused a public outcry over the harmful effect of addictive games on minors and triggered calls to limit the sale of such games. The parents brought a lawsuit against Blizzard in the United States, but a court in Tianjin refused to put the case on record.

"The game is rated as 'T' in the United States, which means it is suitable for people aged 13 or above. But we had no idea about that," says the indictment.

Zhang Xiaoyi played Warcraft for two years before his suicide.

The indictment demanded Aomeisoft inform the Chinese public that Warcraft is rated T in the United States.

It also called for a warning to be printed on its packaging noting that "playing games excessively can harm health."

Zhang Chunliang, a researcher of Internet addiction, said: "Many foreign countries have established strict game classification systems to help parents determine which games are suitable for their children. China should also establish such a system."

According to a report on Internet addiction among Chinese youth, issued by the China Youth Association for Internet Development in November last year, 13.2 percent of 16.5 million young Internet users are now addicted to computers.