A Vancouver high school student says he was beaten by a group of older boys in retaliation for an insult made in an online role-playing game.

The grade-11 student at Eric Hamber Secondary, who cannot be identified, suffered bruises on his back and a broken finger after the attack on Monday.

He told CTV News a car pulled up beside him while he was walking to school.

"Three of them got out, surrounded me. I guess the leader of their group stayed at the car -- he was the one that wanted the apology, and I gave him it. They made me kneel down...and then they beat me up," he said.

The 16-year-old believes the attack was the result of online trash talk during an online role-playing video game, Defence of the Ancients.

The game is a "custom scenario" for the strategy game Warcraft III: Reign of Terror, part of the World of Warcraft universe of games, which has 12 million online subscribers.

The teen's mother can't believe that an altercation in the virtual world turned into a real-life physical attack on her son.

"[I feel] shock, horror and fright, just thinking that something like this could happen to him in the middle of the day," she said.

Her son agrees.

"I'm surprised that they went to these lengths just over a video game. That usually doesn't happen. Nobody really cares -- you just wake up the next morning and forget about it. That's what I do," he said.

The most troubling question for this family is how the attackers knew who the teen was and how to find him.

"They didn't know my son, but they knew one of my son's friends that was playing with them, and they went to his school, approached him and found out where my son was going to school," the victim's mother said.

Vancouver police say the suspects are believed to be in their late teens. No arrests have been made.

The suspected assault is a harsh reminder that anonymity isn't always a guarantee online.

But Computer Science professor Richard Rosenberg says it's unusual for a game player to take a dispute off-line.

"Since they spotted someone nearby, they could transfer their anger to the real world. Why were they so angry that they needed to transfer it? Hard to say. Who knows? Different things affect different people," he said.

The victim's mother says players need to know that some people aren't able to separate reality from online fiction.

"I think as soon as trash-talking or bad-mouthing's going on, it's best to just walk away from the game," she said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen