Friday, October 24, 2008

Blurring of the Virtual and Non-virtual

I was amazed by yesterday's news (full story here) that there's now a case in the Japanese courts where a woman who was served with a divorce in a virtual world ended up killing her online husband and is now being brought up on computer hacking charges for doing so.

I've been arguing for years that making distinctions between "real world" and "virtual world" personas doesn't make much sense-- that it's all just different aspects of the real world. Virtual communities are one kind of real world community, virtual communications are one kind of real world communications, and virtual personas are one kind of real world personas-- all with real world implications and consequences. Now hopefully we're beginning to see the legal system catch up with and put some teeth into the idea that virtual worlds are indeed part of the world. The behaviors in them need to be taken as seriously as the behaviors in any other part of our world. I'll be very interested in seeing the opinion that is written if this case actually makes it to formal charges and through the court system!

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