February 14, 2006 4:00 AM PST

It's a nice day for an 'EverQuest' wedding

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Some people might think it odd to find a soul mate in a place where hunting orcs, battling villains or zipping around in hover cars are the day's primary activities.

In-world wedding

Chris Edwards is not one of them. He met his wife Alayne in the virtual world "Second Life," a game in which players design and build almost any reality they can conceive.

"We'd both been in chat rooms before, but (there was so much) extra depth in 'Second Life,'" said Edwards. "It lets you explore other people's creativity, and that was something that really attracted us to each other. She was experimenting with building plants and flowers and trees, and that was really neat, because I hadn't built anything organic."

Edwards is one of a surprising number of people who have found their long-term Valentines in online games and metaverses like "EverQuest," "City of Heroes" or "Second Life."

Such virtual worlds are 3D digital environments where large numbers of people interact, regardless of where they are geographically. Some of these worlds focus on players reaching specific goals, such as completing quests or slaying monsters, while others leave players to do whatever their imaginations lead them to. Ultimately, though, the games revolve around socialization, allowing people to meet and learn about each other in the context of creative play.

To be sure, not every virtual-world romantic interlude ends up at the altar. In some cases, not surprisingly, players have used the environments to stalk would-be paramours, and tales of nasty breakups are common. But because the games give players so much

"My personal hunch is that a lot of romantics play elves, and they tend to marry other elves."
--Alan Crosby, global director of community relations, Sony Online Entertainment
latitude to become acquainted with others' imaginations and sense of play, they can be a natural place for gauging what it might be like to spend significant time with someone in the real world.

For Edwards, a 36-year-old game designer in Harrogate, England, and his wife, Alayne Wartell, "Second Life" provided a forum where the two, then living across the Atlantic Ocean from each other, could discover a wide range of mutual interests.

They met in the game, Edwards said, because they owned adjacent land, and they began to trek to each other's properties to see what the other was working on.

One of the things Edwards built in his house, he explained, was a floating brain in a jar--along with tinted windows and a swimming pool that appeared in the floor. "Alayne just came over (sometimes) on the pretense of saying hello to my...brain in the jar," Edward said. "We always say we fell in love over my brains."

Soon, the couple began to court. They borrowed some friends' private resort--a digital property in "Second Life"--and spent a virtual romantic evening together.

Romance amid the sunken galleons
"We took a date wandering around their lovely gardens and had nice walks through the wooded areas," he said. "There were sunken galleons, and they'd even set out virtual food for us: a candlelit dinner on the veranda."

Edwards visited Wartell at her home in Philadelphia, and before long, the two decided to marry. Wartell, now 41, agreed to move to England.

But virtual worlds are also a place for couples to explore and expand existing relationships.

The story of Jeff Ruggieri, of Cranston, R.I., and his fiance is a story a marketing executive would have to love.

About a year after they began playing NCSoft's "City of Heroes," an online game in which players take on the roles of superheroes fighting villainy, Ruggieri and his girlfriend found themselves prowling around in the game one day.

They were sitting next to each other in real life, and at one point, she asked him not to look at her screen. "Finally, she says, 'OK, you can look now,' and I look at the computer...and she had her character kneel down and she just proposed to me," Ruggieri recalled. "Of course I said yes to her in-game and turned to her and said yes in real life."

See more CNET content tagged:
Second Life, virtual worlds, EverQuest, brain, England

9 comments

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Is it just me?
Or does anyone else find these people very odd? Wow, I heard and seen people get envolved in games, but come on, there's a real world just outside your front door.

Just too strange for me to think about virtual people online getting married in real life
Posted by itworker--2008 (130 comments )
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yeah, It's just you
Really, it's just you.
Why is meeting online any more unusual than using a dating service or any other method to meet?
Think of it as a tool that allows people to meet in an environment that makes them feel comfortable and avoids the hang-ups of looks.
Everyone has their own comfort zone and way to be happy. Play an MMORPG for a while- while a lot of the real does not apply, you may be surprised at how much of real world actually does.
If people can find true love and be happy the location and means seems pretty irrelevant to me.
Posted by Fireweaver (105 comments )
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Not just you
It's odd, by the standards of social norms held by 97% of all people. But its not inappropriate. And let's face it, these people deserve each other.

I cannot suppose that what they are doing is wrong, psychoanalysis aside. But you wont convince me that its not odd.
Posted by MarkBentley (33 comments )
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How do they get a divorce?
thats the real question
Posted by mrpeabody3119 (101 comments )
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I think this was neat and I have a dreamscape perfect for this type of thin
Hi everyone.

While writing poetry at online poetry site, I met a 79 year old lady, Joy T. from UK who wrote me Pixie Faerie stories and a 52 year old lady from Croatia, Sonja S., who also wrote me faerie tales.

I was an orphan once so I adopted them as Empress Crystaldust of Joy and Queen Sonja of Tender Hearts. Then we started growing fast.

For them and my now increasing adopted online teenage dauthers, I created a dreamscape for a hundred ladies from all over the world who became Pixie Faeries of love and light or of sorrow and darkness.

From just a month ago I already have over 100 ladies and girls literally from all over the world Austrial, Puerto Rico, Phillipines, Iraq, Morocco, US, Canada and Europe all writing Pixie Faerie stories.

My online sister and aunt, Lepekaha Foehn, her site name, Pixie Duchess from Dixie in Texas set up the Pixies in Dixie and other far off and wonderful places.

So, they made me Iohagh, Crown Princess of Imps and Sprites just last month in a two week period I wrote a dreamscape in 9 tomes (full length rhyming stories) including a Pixieverse. Many Pixies change names and personas weekly but their stories remain eternally.

The dreamscape is called "Sherlock Gnome, Pixie Detective, Faerie Good Investigations". There are lots of domains and wars and Soul Eater becoming Mage Mohr threatening manlings (humans) and lots of imagery all from the Pixie Faerie perspective, well, we are all poets but written not to violate trademark since thats AP policy.

How do I get your game people to do for Pixie Faeries in my group what you talk about. We even have one Pixie Mystic Enchantress from Puerto Rico who is married to an American ElfLord, Brokenpen long distance and a real Irish Pixie married couple in Ireland.

We have nothing save the concept of Evermore and Nevermore in Pixieland copywrited in my published tomes.

We are creating interactive game teams now but we don't know anything. Anyway, I love the idea and though some scoff, Empress Crystaldust of Joy said her boarding school motto 60 years ago was "Love the world" I say "one person at a time".

Ciao Now.
Posted by Iohagh (54 comments )
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i think its cool
my husband plays everquest and i think this situation is awsome everquest is a very fun on line role playing game that takes so much creativity hope you both are happy and live a ling life together and i guess if they keep adding exspansion packs there well always be conversation in your home
Posted by patterson69 (1 comment )
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