Monday, October 27, 2008

Virtual Murder Equals Real Prison Sentence

A woman in Japan is facing five years in prison for killing her digital partner's avatar in the PC game Maple Story. (Unbelievable!)

The 43-year-old Japanese piano teacher killed her online virtual husband when he unexpectedly, without warning or reason, demanded a divorce. She hacked into her make-believe hubby's profile with his login information and annihilated his online character. (In my opinion, he was an idiot for giving her his login information in the first place!) The 33-year-old office worker from Sapporo, had spent a year creating his character and did not take his Maple Story alter ego's death lightly. (I guess an online marriage can seem real to some people. I'm glad it was an online marriage murder than a real world marriage murder.) He called the police and had her arrested for "illegal access on a computer and manipulating electronic data." She was taken 620 miles from her home to Sapporo and if convicted will be jailed or fined up to $6,200.

The couple had never met in person, but she told police: "I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry." (She reacted like ever woman does after a break-up. Irrationally.) Luckily, she had no intent of causing him physical harm. Instead she caused him mental and emotional harm?

Maple Story is a 2D, side-scrolling, MMRPG (Massively Multiplayer online role-playing game), free PC game with 50 million subscribers developed by the South Korean company Wizet.

Similar to World of Warcraft and Second Life, players create avatars that fight monsters and interact with other users. Creating a cool character can cost you and that's where profit comes in. The UK Times reports, "There have been reports of cottage industries in Asia where low-paid workers are employed to spend all day inhabiting the virtual worlds to create avatars that can then be sold online. "

This isn't the first time online virtual world issues have been brought to life. In August, it was reported a woman was charged for plotting to physically abduct the "boyfriend" she met through Second Life. After the man met her in person, he broke off the virtual relationship. She drove to his home and waited with a stun gun, duct tape and handcuffs.

There are more similar cases of crazy stories but it shows that people are letting these online personas warp their view of reality. People need to be careful with who they decide to betroth themselves to in the virtual world as well as the real world. What I'm wondering is, do they have prenups in virtual marriages?