A gamer in China spent over $1,000 in 2 years to pay for his online gaming fun, building up a collection of virtual items in the process. When a hacker stole his account and his stuff, the gamer sued and won.
The company, Beijing Arctic Ice Technology Development Co Ltd, refused the gamers request to identify the hacker, or at least give him back the stolen items. The gamer then went to police, who also refused to get involved. In the end, it was a Chinese court of law who sided with the gamer.
The decision is considered a landmark in the online world, where hackers routinely break into gaming accounts and steal years worth of built up characters, possessions and skills. In only a few minutes work, a hacker can destroy what a person has spent literally thousands of hours of real time effort into creating.
The gaming company argued that the end product was just bits and electrons, but the gamer and court showed that those bits and electrons were of great value to the gamer and were the unique result of his efforts. Just like paper money is simply bits of parchment that have been assigned a value, so is a gaming account more than the sum of its parts. Hopefully this action will help thousands of other gamers who have been hacked find recompense for their loss.