Virtual Murder?

Online divorcee jailed after killing virtual hubby

TOKYO – A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband’s digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game “Maple Story” to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

This woman is being charged with unauthorized access, not any form of murder or destruction of virtual property.  But in another related story, a teenager has been charged with stealing valuable possessions after forcing another online gamer to transfer virtual obects in a game world to him after threatening him and then assaulting him to get him to peform the transfer.  The judge ruled that the objects transferred (read stolen) in the game world had real value and the charges could stand.

How long will it be until somebody’s avatar in a virtual world has real value?  How long does it take to create an online presence and how much is that worth?

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