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17 Jan, 2008 03:54

Online game rivalry ends with real life murder

A young Russian man has been charged with murder after an internet game jumped off the screen onto the street. It's alleged he killed an internet gaming rival after they met face to face in the city of Ufa.

Violence on screen isn't harmful to anyone. But when virtual reality and real life collide an innocent game can end in tragedy.

It all started when two clans – the Coo-clocks, made up of mostly students, and the so-called Platanium with more experienced gamers of over thirty – started fighting to wipe out each other on screen.  

33-year-old Albert used to spend hours in front of his computer. On the web he had his own clan and a dozen of warriors. Just days before the New Year in a virtual battle his clan killed a member of the hostile Coo-clocks. 

Days later the enemies agreed to meet literally face to face in the real world.

Their confrontation led to tragedy. Albert was badly beaten and died from his injuries on the way to hospital. 

“I think they have confused the game and reality. And after we buried him on December 31, they continued to threaten us,” Albert’s sister Albina says.   

The alleged murderer hasn't shown regret and hasn't justified himself. 22-year-old student just calmly explained why he killed his opponent. 

On the web each of the clans had its own hierarchy and rules

“Beat everything that moves, and everything that doesn’t move – move and beat!” – this is one of the rules of the Coo-clocks clan.

In this case the rule applied to real people in real life. Members of the internet Coo-clocks clan continue to harass the family of the murdered man, threatening to kill his sister, who hasn’t turned on the computer for days. 
In an unrelated case another gamer in his twenties came to Moscow from Ukraine to meet his rival. The confrontation ended in with the Moscow man being beaten to death. 

And a twenty-year-old from Petrosavodsk killed his grandmother after she interrupted his game calling him to eat.

However, internet experts say these cases shouldn't be lumped together just because some people can't handle the situation.

“Not many talk about the benefits of internet games for disabled people who don’t have a chance to communicate with others like themselves or able-bodied people.  Nobody mentions the benefits the internet can offer in education,” says Aleksandr Kuzmenko of a computer game magazine.   

With more and more people logging on to get their fix of virtual reality the experts say incidents like these are rare, and want it to stay that way.