When Chinese police forces ran the ID of a 24 year old woman going by the name Xiao Yun, they had no idea the stone they were overturning. The ID turned out to be fake, and though she claimed to have been raised by her grandparents, it transpired that Yun had run away from home at 14 and spent the past 10 years living in Internet cafes and bath houses, much of it playing the free FPS Crossfire.
Although not a well known title in Western markets, Crossfire is actually the world’s most popular FPS, easily eclipsing the likes of Counter-Strike and various Call of Duty games. The publisher of Crossfire, Smilegate, claims to have over 400 million registered players, earning it more than $1.4 billion in 2014.
It’s one of the most popular games in China, and because of that, Xiao Yun’s dedication to it quickly garnered her attention from fellow internet cafe gamers. She told police that she made much of her money from teaching others how to win, coaching them to become better players. She also sometimes relied on donations and did some cashier work at those same outlets.
Having been missing since 2005 though, Yun’s parents thought she was dead, even having her name removed from their home’s registry. However, there was an inkling that Yun may have been still around, as a couple of years ago, someone claiming to be her messaged her mother on WeChat, a popular messaging application in China.
Her mother claimed to have left her mobile number the same throughout the years in the hope that her daughter would find her. While she did, the daughter refused to reunite with her family, leaving her family skeptical that the person who’d contacted them was in fact the long-lost daughter.
Though Xiao Yun initially refused to meet with her parents even after police uncovered her identity, she eventually agreed to do so. Since the girl originally ran away after an argument with her parents, the mother has now pledged to be a little more lenient. Her only punishment was a 1000 Yuan fine from the police for using a fake ID.