Sunday, October 26, 2008

Woman kills 'avatar-hubby'

Oct 25, 2008

TOKYO: A 43-year-old piano teacher was so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on and killed his digital persona, police said.

She used his identification and password to log on to the popular interactive game MapleStory to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo city said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

'I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,' the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting to the act.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said. She was charged with illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, police said. If convicted, she could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to US$5,000 (S$7,500).

As in Second Life in the United States, players in MapleStory raise and manipulate digital images called avatars that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships and social activities and fighting against monsters and other obstacles.

The woman used login information she obtained from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed his online character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved avatar was dead.

The woman was arrested on Wednesday and was taken across the country, travelling 1,000km from her home in southern Miyazaki prefecture, to be detained in Sapporo where the man lives, the official said.

The police official said he did not know if she was married in the real world.

In recent years, the obsession by some people over virtual lives has had consequences in the real world.

In August, a woman was charged in Delaware in the United States with plotting the real-life abduction of a boyfriend she met through Second Life.

Virtual games are popular in Japan, and Second Life has drawn a fair number of Japanese participants. They rank third by nationality among users, after Americans and Brazilians.


[Crime of the future.]

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