A disturbing episode in China highlights how seriously some people take on-line games. Qiu Chengwei spent hours playing Legend of Mir III and eventually obtained one of the game's most powerful weapons, the dragon sabre. Qiu then lent the virtual sabre to Zhu Caoyuan, who proceeded to sell it for real money. Chinese police did nothing when Qiu complained, taking the position that the virtual sword was not property that could be stolen. Qiu eventually attacked and killed Zhu. He has been sentenced to death for murder, although the Chinese court has suspended that sentence for two years and the sentence may eventually be reduced to prison time.
This episode raises many questions, including the treatment of virtual "property" and the social consequences of excessive on-line gaming.