Chinese Parents Sue Warcraft Distributor Over Son’s Suicide

Video Game Law Blog

May 17, 2006

The parents of a 13-year-old Chinese boy who they say jumped to his death from a tall building after playing one of the popular 'Warcraft"? online games for 36 hours straight are suing Aomeisoft, the Chinese distributor of 'Warcraft Orcs and Humans"?.

Zhang Xiaoyi died on Dec. 27, 2004, leaving behind a suicide note saying he wanted 'to join the heroes of the game he worshipped,'' the official Xinhua News Agency reported. In a suit that claims that Aomeisoft failed to include a warning that the game's U.S. maker rates it as suitable only for players above age 13, Zhang's parents are reportedly seeking 100,000 yuan ($12,500) in damages.

The Warcraft games are made by Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal SA, but Xinhua reports that a Chinese court rejected a claim by the parents against the game maker.

Bai Jie, the vice president of Aomeisoft, told The Associated Press that he saw news reports about the lawsuit but that the company had yet to receive any official court notice. Bai stated that Zhang's parents would be suing the wrong company, because Aomeisoft was set up in August, eight months after his death. Bai also stated that he didn't know which distributor sold the game in 2004.

It is reported that the suit also calls on the distributor to put a warning on the game's packaging saying 'playing games excessively harms health"?. In response to this, Bai stated that the company plans to add 'anti-addiction warnings"? to future games.

According to a statement from Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Bernard Levy in April 2006, the Warcraft games have 2.5 million players in China, with copies in more than 100,000 Internet cafes.

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