A fight between a 16-year-old boy and his mother surrounding his attachment to online gaming took a turn for the worse when the woman reportedly threw herself in the river out of anger, followed by the teen. The mother and son are now presumed to have drowned during the dramatic altercation.
A 16-year-old student named Mingming (alias) in Guangyuan, Sichuan province was particularly fond of the online game League of Legends. So much, that right after school let out for the Qingming holiday on April 4, the teenager headed straight to a local internet cafe to play.
Games in Asia reports:
That evening, Mingming still had not returned home, and his frustrated mother headed to confront him, going from internet cafe to internet cafe until she finally found him, playing League. According to Chinese news reports, their argument got heated, and she yelled “You go online and I can’t control you, so I’ll just go die!”
(Or something like that. Other reports feature different quotations like “You’re playing online games; I didn’t teach you well, I can’t live with myself, so I’ll just go jump in the river.” It’s quite possible these quotations are all edited for drama or simply paraphrasing the argument Mingming and his mother had, although they are reported as though they are verbatim quotations).
According to the original report, Mingming’s mother dragged him from the cafe to the bank of the Jialing river, where she called her husband Sun Guangming, telling him that she was going to kill herself.
The woman walked into the river, and once her legs were submersed, she was caught by an undercurrent and carried away. Mingming ran in afterwards, but couldn’t grab her.
Witnesses say that when Sun arrived at the scene, he was so filled with rage that he kicked his son, screaming “You had to go online, you had to play games!” That’s when Mingming jumped into the water himself.
Sun, distraught, tried to follow him, crying “I also don’t want to live, I will go with you,” but he was rescued by a police officer on the riverbank.
Neither Mingming nor his mother have been seen since, and although their fate is not certain, given that both have now been missing for several days, it seems highly likely that both drowned.
While the sad, escalated turn of events may seem like another opportunity to fire up finger wagging from anti-gaming crusaders, the circumstances, like many we’ve seen in the past, seem less centered on “gaming addiction” and more upon people who appear to have underlying instability (although “internet addiction” is indeed perceived as a widespread problem across China).
Games in Asia does point out that the cybercafe Mingming patronized had a sign on the door stating that customers under 18 were not permitted inside, in accordance with rules implemented in 2010 regarding underage patrons in such establishments.