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But the Riselings and many other couples have found that their avatar attraction extended far beyond the computer screen.
"We turned on our cameras on Skype because our daughters wanted to meet each other," Meta told The Huffington Post.
Avatars can attend and participate in educational classes, political town halls, live comedy shows, DJ performances and entrepreneurial endeavors. A study released this month by the Visa-owned research group Play Span found that almost one third of the general gaming population uses real money in virtual games as game dollars can be bought with real dollars (230 Lindens in Second Life translates to 1 USD plus a 30 cent fee; one Ray in Utherverse roughty translates to 7 cents, although the actual cost shifts based on the world's market prices).
Other gamers make a living in businesses created on MMORPGs. The French watchdog organization Familles de France filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Linden Lab, the creator of the MMOPPG Second Life, opposing the adult content of the site.
After Meta's daughter Kinzee, 14, and Sean's daughter Josie, 8, finished talking, "we pretty much knew, this was it," Meta said.
They picked a date to meet in October in Oklahoma City, halfway between Meta's home in Ozark, Mo., and Sean's home in Walsh, Colo.
The Riselings also number among the many people who have found love through massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as Utherverse, World of Warcraft and Second Life.Even though Meta had intended to keep things casual -- she was in the midst of ending a 16-year marriage -- it soon became clear that this was not your average one-night stand.Over the next few weeks, they would go to amusement parks, take walks along the beach, tour architecturally-interesting houses and stay up through the night talking.One post on a Second Life forum complained: "My SL husband is cheating on me with a Bisexual Skunk Furry and is asking for a divorce. " While weddings on MMORPGs can be expensive, depending on their extravagance, it should be noted that divorces come cheap.Avatars do not have to split half their earnings and possessions in divorce settlements. He has been in over 20 relationships via World of Warcraft, and many of them have evolved beyond the game into the physical world.
According to a 2007 study, one in three MMORPG players have found themselves attracted to another player.