Virtual Life Leads to Reality Death

Image by Tamahikari Tammas via Flickr

As the world of online gaming continues to grow many children enjoy playing virtual games such as Neopets, Neopets is a big community site based around the virtual pets that inhabit the virtual world of Neopia.  Players can take care of up to four virtual pets.

Another online game that is fast becoming popular is Second Life an online 3D virtual world where you enter a world with infinite possibilities and live a life without boundaries, guided only by your imagination.

A South Korean couple left their baby daughter to starve to death at home while at an Internet café they played an online game that simulated child rearing.  The couple would spend up to 12 hours playing an online virtual game where they “raised” an online girl character while neglecting their own prematurely born daughter.  It is alleged that the couple only fed their daughter once a day in between the 12-hour stretches at a neighbourhood Internet café.

The man aged 41 and his 25-year-old wife were arrested five months after they reported the death of their three-month-old baby; they had been on the run since their baby died.

The baby was found dead last September and an autopsy showed her death was caused by long-term malnutrition. The couple were formally arrested on the 4th March 2010.

Police are quoted as saying the couple had become obsessed with raising a virtual girl character called “Anima” in the popular role-playing game “Prius Online”.

They indulged themselves in the online game of raising a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby.”

There have been sporadic reports of deaths related to Internet game addiction in South Korea.  Last month a 32-year-old man died after reportedly playing a computer game for five days with few breaks.

© Sue Edmondson of Prem2Pram the online premature baby store

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