You can start a new career, own a big house with a pool and, increasingly, fall in love.But while the house and the heels stay in Second Life, the real people behind the avatars carry their heightened emotions back into their first life - sometimes with devastating consequences for their marriage or relationship.Meanwhile, husband Lee, an insightful, sympathetic man, was desperate to reclaim his wife from her virtual infatuation, and hovered helplessly in the background in a state of near despair.“Our kids have said to her face that the computer means more to her than they do.“A month later we were logging on every evening at 7pm and not logging off until 4am.Our avatars would do all the stuff normal couples do, like talking and going to clubs or ice skating.And it seems as though increasing numbers of us are at risk from the spectre of digital adultery.It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that a woman is divorcing her husband after catching him having an online affair.
Exponents insist it’s not a game – there are no rules.
Rather, it is a “synthetic world” with shops and cars, theatres and estate agents, where you communicate with others via instant messaging or voice.
It may not be real, but a lot of people take it very seriously indeed: both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opened campaign offices in this parallel universe.
It gets even weirder once you realise that Kristen’s mother logged on to Second Life to see her “daughter” Kira wed Nik and that Steve’s mate was his best man, watching, all choked up, on the sidelines.
The bizarre event was the culmination of five months of cyber-dating, during which time Kirsten and Steve’s avatars met in Second Life, struck up a virtual rapport, had virtual sex and moved in together, virtually.