Online games becoming all too real

Chances are, you've been addicted to a computer game at some point in your life – maybe Grand Theft Auto lured you into completing every mission, or y

Chances are, you've been addicted to a computer game at some point in your life – maybe Grand Theft Auto lured you into completing every mission, or you got mesmerised by the lines of Tetris.

Whatever you're gaming vice, though, it almost certainly pails in comparison to the recent stories from Asia's Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs).

A few weeks back a girl known as Snowly settled down for a three day session on World of Warcraft – it resulted in her death from exhaustion.

Hundreds of fellow players (there's currently a worldwide population of 4 million online gamers) then paid an eerie homage to her by organising the virtual funeral shown above.

Then, a few weeks later another gamer called Thereafter died in a similarly gruesome fashion. Suddenly, getting to season 28 on Championship Manager seems almost normal.

Chinese authorities are naturally looking to act to prevent more deaths. A three-hour limit is to be introduced next year, and games manufacturers are also looking to include ‘anti-obsession’ features.

It's intriguing that most online deaths have taken place in Asia, despite World of Warcraft being available in the UK for over a year. While Britain's  controversial videogame topic is the incendiary effects of violence, China is presiding over virtual suicides.

It's not all morbid tragedy though – MMORPGs are turning into big global business. On role-playing game ‘Project Entropia’ a gamer called Deathifier recently recouped the £13,700 investment he’d paid for a virtual island. On the game, real currency can be exchanged for PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and back the other way.

The game's virtual space station recently sold for £57,000 too. In an inflated real-world housing market, it all seems quite tempting. Just make sure you tell someone to immediately pull the plug upon hearing you mutter 'just one more day'.

There's more info on World of Warcraft on its official site.

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