10/24/2008, 00.00
JAPAN
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Woman arrested for killing “virtual” husband on interactive website

Woman gets angry because “husband” divorces her in online life without explanations. She takes out revenge by “killing” his online persona. She now could get five years in jail for illegally accessing and manipulating electronic data.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and “killed” his digital persona, police said.

The 43-year-old Japanese piano teacher created her own avatar (digital image representing players) on the ‘Maple Story’ interactive site where players can engage in engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting monsters and other obstacles. Here she found a “husband”, but one day “I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” she told police.

In May she used her online husband’s ID and password to log onto the virtual world where the two were happily married to kill off his character.

When he found out that his online avatar was dead he complained to police.

The woman was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, and taken 1,000 kilometres from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sapporo, where the man lives.

She admitted the allegations but said she had not plotted any revenge in the real world.

If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to US$ 5,000.

Virtual worlds are increasingly popular; in such places people can live parallel lives, experience adventures and obtain the successes they do not have in the real world. Players often abandon their inhibitions, engaging in activity online that they would never do in the real world.

However, bad online behaviour is usually handled within the rules set up by online worlds, which can ban miscreants or take away their virtual possessions.

In recent years, misbehaviour in the virtual world has in some cases had consequences in the real one.

In Tokyo, a 16-year-old boy was charged with stealing the ID and password from a fellow player of an online game in order to swindle virtual currency worth US$ 360,000.

In August, a woman was charged in the US state of Delaware with plotting the real-life abduction of a boyfriend she met through the virtual reality website ‘Second Life.’

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