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Is Having an Online Wife Adultery?

Second Life - Virtual Adultery
It's Sunday morning at 6AM, and Dutch Hoorenbeek rolls out of bed to check on his strip club and do some renovations to an outside party deck. He then fires several tenants in his mall for not paying rent, signs up four new ones, and transports to his office to spend some time with his wife, Tenaj Jackelope.

The thing is, in real life, Dutch Hoorenbeek is actually Ric Hoogestraat, a call-center operator making $14 an hour. He's also married to Sue Hoogestraat, not Tenaj Jackelope.

Confusing? It should be. Turns out that Ric and Sue's marriage is on the rocks. She contends that he spends more time online in Second Life, a virtual universe currently home to 30 million players, with his online wife. Sue spends her days in front of the television, while Ric is in the other room running a virtual night club and consorting with his online wife, sometimes for as long as 14 hours at a time on weekends.

Although Sue Hoogestraat has attended "gaming widow" support groups, she sees no way out. "Basically, the other person is widowed," she told the Wall St. Journal. "This other life is so wonderful; it's better than real life. Nobody gets fat, nobody gets gray. The person that's left can't compete with that."

Ric believes that what he's doing is harmless. "It's just a game," he says. Experts, however, have found most recently that feelings that people have online -- connections with other virtual characters, loss, friendship, and even love -- are in fact real emotions, and humans don't have the ability to switch off between what they feel on- and off-line.

Addiction to online gaming is a common thread these days. What appears to be on the rise, however, is a notion that people could be cheating on their real-life spouses in virtual worlds. While divorce courts don't currently consider such indiscretions adultery, lawyers appear ready to change their minds on that. Could the courts be far behind?

From The Wall St. Journal

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Tags: breaking+news, second life, SecondLife, top

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