I’ll have to do an abbreviated version of Gaming Madness in China this week, as I’m currently caught up in some real-life gaming madness at the Tokyo Game Show, but this story was to chilling not to pass on.
The He family, residents of Hengxian, Guangxi, was living a life as happy as most Chinese families, or perhaps happier. As the owners of a local grocery, the parents had a better-than-average income and their 15-year-old son enjoyed a life of relative privilege. But his love of gaming turned violent earlier this month, when an argument with his mother distracted him from his online game. She had asked him to stop playing and suggested he had taken some of her earrings; when she wouldn’t let up his frustration boiled over, and he grabbed a butterfly knife from a nearby drawer and stabbed her to death.
Perhaps even more disturbingly, he made no attempt to save her or call for an ambulance as she lay dying on the floor of their home. Instead he took a shower, changed clothes, and went out for a little shopping before settling into an internet cafe and resuming his game. He stayed there until his father called, asking why his mother wasn’t answering her phone. He lied, saying she was sick, but then imagining his father’s rage when he went home and found her murdered, he got scared and ran to a police station to turn himself in.
A couple weeks ago, in the wake of a gaming-related suicide in Hong Kong, we took a look at several studies about games, gaming addiction, and violence. In looking at this latest case of murder, it might be helpful to point out again that games do not turn people into murderers, but that people with violent tendencies may be more likely to fall victim to gaming addiction. Perhaps that explains why stories involving games and murder aren’t too difficult to find.