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“Nik” is actually Steve Sweet, 47, a mobile phone salesman from Plymouth.He, it is fair to say, looks as unlike Keanu Reeves as it is possible to be. They are avatars, online characters who were created by Kristen and Steve in Second Life, an internet fantasy world, where you can reinvent yourself and embark on the kind of adventures you’ve always dreamed of – including a WAG-style white wedding with 20ft train, and even, as we have seen today, the phenomenon of cyber-adultery.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.
Pollard has made headlines for divorcing her husband, David, 40, on the grounds of “unreasonable behaviour”. Earlier this year, Kristen and Steve appeared on a prescient BBC documentary, Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love.
I got my life back.” The fact that it was a pretend life didn’t deter Kristen and Steve: for them, the feelings were just as intense as if it had been face to face.
They have an album of virtual wedding pictures to prove it, which they pore over as lovingly as any conventional bride and groom.
Companies such as Sony, Ikea, BMW and Coca-Cola also have a presence and Reuters and Sky News have bureaux. But for individuals, a major appeal of Second Life is that it’s like real life, only much much better.
It’s a world where you don’t have to be dumpy, or from Nuneaton, one where your avatar can look like a model, shop for virtual designer shoes and make virtual friends.
“A month later we were logging on every evening at 7pm and not logging off until 4am.