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
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.