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Master of his virtual domain: the rise and fall of the 'Clash of Clans' master

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Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans

There was a time when George Yao wrapped five iPads in plastic bags and brought them into the shower with him just so he could play a game. Yao, otherwise known as Jorge Yao, was a "hero among mortals" in Clash of Clans, a real-time strategy game where you build a medieval village overrun with barbarians and wizards. He was the first player to beat the 4,000-trophy mark, and for a solid six months, was ranked number one in the world. Much like Shaun Boyd, the world's 13th-best Donkey Kong player, Yao lived to play, only humoring his "Clark Kent life" of an office job at a financial services company to pay the bills and survive. Clash of Clans made him feel less alone and provided him the camaraderie he enjoyed in high school as captain of the rugby club, and in college as the treasurer of his fraternity. But eventually there came a point where Yao had to put down the iPads and do something — anything — but protect his clan. Read on at The New York Times to see how and why the master ended his own reign.