A Shanghai online game player has stabbed to death a competitor who sold his cyber sword for real money.
The sale created a legal dilemma because China has no law covering the ownership of virtual weapons.
The China Daily newspaper reported that a Shanghai court was told Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed competitor Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest after he was told Zhu had sold his dragon sabre, used in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3,
The online game features heroes and villains, sorcerers and warriors, many of whom wield enormous swords.
Qiu and a friend jointly won their virtual weapon last February and lent it to Zhu, who then sold it for 7,200 yuan.
Qui went to the police to report the theft but was told the weapon was not real property protected by law.
"Zhu promised to hand over the cash but an angry Qui lost patience and attacked Zhu at his home, stabbing him in the left chest with great force and killing him," the court heard.
Newspaper reports on the incident did not specify the charge against Qiu but said he had given himself up to police and already pleaded guilty to intentional injury.
No verdict has been announced.
More and more online gamers are seeking justice through the courts over stolen weapons and credits.
"The armour and swords in games should be deemed as private property as players have to spend money and time for them," said Wang Zongyu, an associate law professor at Beijing's Renmin University of China.
But other experts are calling for caution.
"The assets of one player could mean nothing to others as they are by nature just data created by game providers," an unnamed lawyer for a Shanghai-based Internet game company said.