Blog Post

Do what you want to me, but don't hurt my avatar!

I ran across the following news story a couple weeks ago from PC World via washingtonpost.com:

 

 

Woman Jailed for Murdering Avatar

A virtual divorce prompts a virtual world murder -- with consequences back in real life.

 


Brennon Slattery

PC World
Monday, October 27, 2008; 12:19 AM

 

The line between virtual reality and its flesh-and-blood cousin blurreda little this week as a 43-year-old Tokyo woman was jailed formurdering her virtual ex-husband's avatar.

After she suddenly found herself divorced in "Maple Story",a popular 2-D side scrolling MMORPG, the unidentified woman used herex-husband's ID and password to log into the game and kill him off.Call it Death by Deletion.

When the man discovered his beloved avatar was gone, he contactedauthorities, which led to the woman's arrest. "I was suddenly divorced,without a word of warning," the woman told investigators. "That made meso angry." The AP reports that the woman had no intention to carry out violence in reality.

The charges are "illegally accessing a computer and manipulatingelectronic data," which carries a sentence of up to five years in jailor a fine up to $5,000.

This is the first time I've ever heard of real-life authoritiesgetting involved with virtual homicide. While the charges have nothingto do with the avatar's death, but rather the woman's illegal methodsof bumping it off, it certainly illustrates how emotionally involvingonline MMORPGs can be.

 

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Yeah...Not really sure what to say about this.  Ok, the headline is misleading. There is no law against virtual murder as far as I know.  She was arrested for logging into to someone else's account on someone else's computer and messing with their stuff. But really, how common is it for die-hard gamers or members of Second Life type programs to find themselves psychologically wrapped up in their virtual characters? It seems inevitable for some.  I wonder if hyper-involvement happens merely based on individual personality (is this woman wacky?) or if it can be culturally reinforced (i.e. if everyone around you is into virtual reality, are you likely to get as involved in it as this woman?).  Well, I hope the ex-spouses work out their differences, if only for the sake of the game. More importantly, I hope somebody calls the virtual police.  There's a crazy murdering avatar on the loose.   

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