The games, known as juegos de rol (role games), have taken over from video games in homes, colleges or special game clubs. They pit players, or teams, against fantasy enemies or obstacles, incorporating much violence. They are sometimes played with boards on tables, using dice, sometimes in open spaces with an assortment of toy weapons. The aim? To kill before you are killed.
Police say Javier R, a 20- year-old chemistry student at Madrid's Complutense University, and Felix M, a 17- year-old college student, were following the rules of one such game, thought to be called 'Killers', when they sought out their victim, Carlos Moreno, at random at a Madrid bus stop on 30 April.
Mr Moreno, a father of three, was waiting for a night bus home when he was stabbed at least 16 times. Police say a friend of the suspects, who refused to take part in the 'reality' version of the game, recognised elements of the 'game' on a television crime programme last weekend and told his father, who informed the police.
Spanish newspapers yesterday published a written account which police say they found in Javier's home, with knives and several 'role games' when they detained him on Sunday. In the accounts the writer said that, under the 'game's rules', they had first sought a woman or child. After 4am, the victim had to be a 'weak, chubby and elderly' man.
Eventually, they saw 'a little fatso, stocky, with a face that seemed to want you to hit it and a look that seemed to say 'I want to die'. I stuck a knife in his neck. My buddy had begun to stab him in the abdomen. He was gushing blood but I couldn't care less. It's frightening how long it takes an idiot to die.
'In the light of the moon, we looked at our first victim, smiled and shook hands,' said the account.
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