A British woman has been given a suspended sentence and banned from using a computer after failing to cook for her children for six months and allowing her dogs to starve to death.
The 33-year-old widow has been playing Small World, in which dwarves and giants battle to dominate a too-small area – for up to 22 hours a day, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Her children, aged 9, 10 and 13, were left to eat cold baked beans from the tin and other uncooked food.
The alarm was raised when a neighbour looked through the letterbox and saw the filthy state of the house. When officers entered, they found rubbish, mouldy food, and two dead dogs. The woman admitted that they had probably starved to death two months earlier because of her addiction to the computer game.
She said the problem had started after her husband died from a heart attack. Initially, she had palyed the game for just an hour a day, but had become increasingly addicted.
Judge Jeremy Carey told her: “I am satisfied you have been a good mother but your life went very badly wrong when you became obsessed with the Small World computer game.”
He gave the woman a six-month suspended sentence, ordered 75 hours community service and banned her from keeping animals or using a computer; her children have been taken into care.
The case echoes that of the Korean parents who left their baby to starve to death earlier this year while they raised a virtual daughter online. Shortly afterwards, the government cut off access to online games for young internet users during the night hours.