Ai you - to add to the ever growing collection of bizarre stories from the Chinese gaming world comes news that a 17 year old high school student has been sentenced for setting a classmate on fire. What does this have to do with gaming, you ask? Because the kid 'thought' he was a WoW fire mage. Now, in China, the 'but the video game made me do it!' defense doesn't work so well (the kid was sentenced to 8 years in prison, his accomplice - who lured the victim outside with the old line about wanting to chat for a bit - was sentenced to 7, and both boys and their families were ordered to pay a 760,000 RMB restitution - over $US 100K - to the victim and his family), so there's nothing to gain - nor a lawsuit to pursue - by pointing the finger at Blizzard, The9, or Warcraft. From billsdue:
It is a very sad story. Both the victim and perpetrator are not from affluent families, are not particularly well-educated, and didn't appear to have great prospects in Chinese society. World of Warcraft, operated by The9 (Nasdaq:NCTY) in China, and other MMOs are a great escape, as is obvious from the tens of millions of Chinese playing in these virtual worlds.
Good thing for Blizzard and The9 that China's legal system is still developing. If this happened in the US no doubt the victim's family would hire an ambulance chasing lawyer to sue Blizzard for millions, claiming that somehow Blizzard, rather than the parents, was negligent.
According to an article in the Beijing News [新京報] , the 'fire mage' purchased gasoline 5 days prior to the event, which sort of takes the edge off that 'spur of the moment' idea. Furthermore, the interview a Beijing News reporter had with the 'fire mage' was downright disturbing in parts - nothing like sound bites like "[the feeling of watching fire and people burning]is very addictive, very happy!" to make someone come off as perfectly sane. And all this over a schoolyard fight between 17 year olds.