Infuriated that his online game had been interrupted by a spotty Internet connection at an Internet cafe, a Chinese gamer allegedly murdered the establishment's owner and his wife, before setting fire to the cybercafe.
According to China's Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, the man, identified only as "Zhao," had been playing a web game in an Internet cafe in the city of Renqiu in early December last year when the Internet suddenly went down, causing him to lose connection with the game.
Furious, the gamer is said to have called over the cafe's owner, identified as "Ren," hoping that he could fix the problem. However, Ren allegedly blamed Zhao for downloading a virus that caused to the network's failure, and an argument broke out between the two men.
As noted by TechInAsia.com Editor Charlie Custer, quoting website QQ Games, the scuffle soon turned violent. Zhao is said to have grabbed a pair of scissors, a hammer and a kitchen knife, and to have used the weapons to murder the cafe owner and his wife. Further details about the altercation are scarce, but Chinese-language news site Yanzhao Metropolis Daily reports that Zhao then set the room on fire, according to a translation by The Huffington Post. The next morning, customers of the cafe reportedly found the dead couple, as well as evidence of the arson.
In early January, Zhao was arrested on charges of "intentional homicide," according to a HuffPost translation of Yanzhao Metropolis Daily's story.
Custer, who has spent a number of years in China covering technology and gaming news, told HuffPost on Tuesday that while extreme behavior from gamers is not unheard of in the Asian nation, he stressed that this alleged double homicide is one of the worst cases he's ever heard of.
"This is especially horrifying," Custer said over the phone.
On the website QQ Games, some Chinese readers also expressed astonishment at the alleged crime.
"Internet cafes really do cause harm," said one reader.
"No civility, truly horrifying," said another.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the overzealousness of a gamer has led to deaths in China. In 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Chinese gamer had been imprisoned after the murder a fellow game enthusiast over some virtual property. Qiu Chengwei reportedly stabbed Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest after Zhu sold a cyber "sword" that he had borrowed from Qiu.
Then in 2011, the BBC reported that a 30-year-old man had died in China after a "three-day online gaming session in which he did not sleep and barely ate." At the time, the news agency reported that "tens of millions of Chinese people… are addicted to internet gaming, despite curbs introduced by the authorities aimed at tackling the problem."
Still, Custer told HuffPost that extreme gamer behavior is not limited to China. "This is definitely happening everywhere," he said. "There's nothing super special about China."
However, Custer speculated that the Internet cafe culture in China -- where many do not have computers in their homes -- has likely compounded the problem.
"That may make it easier to get to that point," he said. "Everybody around you is playing games and no one is telling you to stop."