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75 percent of in-game marriages end in divorce

Out of 26,982 in-game marriages consummated on the game MapleStory (at $25 each), more than 20,000 end in divorce, according to game site Nexon. The world is now officially in crisis.

I have been a best man at five weddings, but have never myself managed to be a ring-slipper.

However, I understand the need for one human being to permanently attach themselves to another. Even if that attachment is virtual.

So I find virtual tears coursing down my virtual cheeks as I receive information that there is a problem with virtual marriages.

The game-makers (and matchmakers) at online-game site Nexon tell me that of the 26,982 in-game marriages that have joyously occurred in a game called MapleStory, 20,344 have ended in divorce.

Because I happen never to have played MapleStory, nor indeed even wondered what it is, I am grateful to Nexon for offering me correspondence with respect to the details of the world's next great social plight.

"I was young, naive, and thought I had met 'the one'," declared one player from Vancouver. "She asked me what I wanted in MapleStory for my birthday, and I told her that the only thing I could ever want was for her to marry me."

I feel virtual sniffles coming on. My shirt is becoming virtually damp. What could have possibly gone wrong?

Tyler--for that is the Vancouveran warrior's name--continued: "She started saying that I wasn't the person she fell in love with. That I had changed, and that I didn't seem to care about her anymore."

So far, so not very virtual. This sounded like an everyday occurrence in our venal little world. Spouses change their minds. Spouses feel insecure. Spouses decide you aren't "the one" any more. But wait, there was more.

Tyler continued that his best friend called him to say his new virtual wife was sabotaging him in the game. He continued: "Less than a week later, we decided that we needed to sever all ties between us, and we had our marriage annulled. I haven't talked to her since."

Surely the sound of silence was the only appropriate one here. Surely this heartless woman could feel Tyler's virtual, soundless pain buffeting her gritted teeth.

One hundred million hopeful souls allegedly play this game. (That figure, coming from Nexon's representatives, somehow seems strangely exaggerated.) It is not without cost. A virtual marriage will set you back $25. Thankfully, a virtual divorce is somewhat less damaging.

MapleStory producer Crystin Cox said: "While it looks like our players break up at a much higher rate than people do in real life, at least our players are not on the hook for alimony. Couples who break up are not required to split up their loot, virtual pets or any enchanted items."

While this will be a relief to the virtual Fidos and Aloisiuses who will not have to change their lifestyle, where is the human touch? Where is the virtual counseling? Where is the virtual marriage guidance? How can these callous MapleStory people allow so many marriages to disable their society?

As is my personal philosophy, I wish to offer virtual hope to all those currently in virtual purgatory. While an annulment does, in fact, cost players $500,000 mesos (the MapleStory dollar), there is always a little light on the horizon of virtual love.

You can get married again 10 days later.