Parents of siblings who jumped off a 15-metre-high building to copy scenes from a video game where they expected to "come back to life" are demanding compensation from the game owners.
The 11-year-old boy and his sister, nine, from Handan, a city in China’s northern province of Hebei, said the pair had been excessively playing mobile phone games since they were placed in coronavirus lockdown.
The siblings became addicted to open-world game Mini World, as well as Game of Peace, which is the bloodless version of battle-royale hit PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - better known as PUBG.
Both sibling suffered extreme injuries that doctors said they may never fully recover from. Source: Asiawire/australscope
They had been given a smartphone by their parents while cooped up at home during lockdown and had played both games while taking classes online.
On March 22, the boy and girl were critically injured when they went to the roof of their residential building and deliberately jumped off together, breaking multiple bones during the fall.
In a shocking recent admission, the brother revealed to local media that he and his sister were attempting to imitate scenes in their favourite video games.
“[My sister] said: ‘Big brother, let’s see whether we’ll come back to life like in the game.’ Then she and I tried [jumping off the building],” he said.
“She was willing at first, then she was afraid. I told her to close her eyes, then I took her hand and went first. I don’t remember what happened after that.
“We wanted to try and see whether we could fly or come back to life, like in Game of Peace and Mini World.
“In Mini World creative mode, you never die no matter how many times you fall.”
The siblings fell 15 metres from the top of their residential building. Source: Asiawire/australscope
The siblings were hospitalised for weeks and underwent multiple surgeries, which were funded by money borrowed from relatives and donations crowdfunded online.
Their dad, Shen Haiyong, 39, said his children played the games for up to eight hours the day before the incident took place.
“Our kids were never like this before they started playing these games,” his wife, Fu Ruixia, said.
“They were never this addicted. They did well in school.”
Mr Shen has been told that both his currently bed-bound children will inevitably live with long-term effects from their injuries, from which they will never fully recover.
The family is now seeking compensation from Tencent Games, which owns both titles in the Chinese market.
A child plays the mobile phone game Mini World. Source: Asiawire/australscope
But the video game publishing arm of Chinese conglomerate Tencent has so far refused to accept responsibility, suggesting the problem lies mainly in sandbox game Mini World and not Game of Peace.
While Tencent publishes Game of Peace, the scenes described by the siblings related mainly to Mini World, which is Tencent-owned but actually developed by Miniwan Technology Co Ltd, a spokesperson said.
The detail may prove crucial if Mr Shen and his wife ever seek to take the tech giant to court over their children’s conditions.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.