Online games have real consequences: a boring but necessary truism. Bizarrely, the latest report comes from France though you would have expected such an incident to arise where MMORPGs are far more popular, the Far East.
The psychology behind the story is very predictable. The criminal jailed was so attached to his character that, when it (not he!) died, he tracked down the rival gamer and attempted to kill him. This is not a story about individuals unable to distinguish between fiction and reality, the ongoing criticism of role playing games. This was a more sophisticated act: where the criminal's identity was bound up in his character and trauma of the 'virtual death' required expiation in real life.
What level of immersion is required to reinforce identifying with the game's character. The psychological loyalty to the trauma was such that the criminal spent six months plotting his rival's death; though the 'intricate plot' was nothing more than a frenzied knife attack (One wonders if frustration with an elaborate death ritual boiled over into a spontaneous assault?). Julien Barreaux appears to have been an extreme gamer, one of a number of profiles within the gaming arena. He spent his waking life in the game: 48.5 hours, which is more than you are allowed to work in Europe.
Now jailed, he will have to make do with chess or soap on a rope.