Is Avatar Sex Cheating?

Is Avatar Sex Cheating?

Divorce sought after husband cheats on wife in Second Life with avatar mistress.

Affairs used to involve off-the-beaten-path motels, lunch hour and lipstick-stained collars. Private eyes in trench coats would usually be the catalyst for the secret trysts' demise.

These days, cheating can happen with a credit card, one's own hand or even an online alter ego or "avatar."

A British woman recently filed for divorce after she found her husband's avatar cheating on her alter ego in the virtual reality computer game Second Life. The Guardian quoted the man as as saying "We weren't even having cyber sex or anything like that we were just chatting and hanging out together."

His ex-wife-to-be thought differently, saying that he had started a real relationship with the woman, who supposedly lives in America, outside the fantasy of the game. "His was the ultimate betrayal. He had been lying to me," she told the newspaper.

Our definitions of cheating vary greatly. Some say a physical affair is easier to get over, whereas others are devastated by a clandestine emotional connection. Virtual reality crimes and liaisons complicate matters even further. In Japan, a woman faced criminal charges after virtually "murdering" her husband's avatar. In reality, she deleted his account, and the punishment reflected this—not homicide.

In the British case, the woman (and her avatar) had broken up with the man (and his avatar) once before. She had found his avatar having sex with a prostitute. They reconciled, but before getting married (both virtually and in reality), she created her very own virtual private eye avatar to solicit an affair from her man's alter ego. He behaved and both marriages proceeded until his (or his avatar's) wandering eyes emerged again.

Add in some virtual lipstick and a lunch hour, and maybe affairs aren't that different from what they used to be, after all.

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