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Tokyo man marries video game character

By Kyung Lah, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 27-year-old Tokyo man 'married' Nene Anegasaki, a computer avatar
  • Anegasaki is a videogame character in the Nintendo DS game called "Love Plus"
  • The wedding was viewed live online by thousands in Japan

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- Nene Anegasaki is a witty, doe-eyed beauty. She looks perfectly perky in sexy skirts, doesn't pick fights and is always at one Tokyo man's beck and call -- that is why the 27-year-old decided to marry her.

The only complication: She is a videogame character in the Nintendo DS game called "Love Plus."

Still, that didn't stop Sal 9000 -- the only name the groom would give -- from marrying Nene in a ceremony witnessed live by thousands on the Web.

When asked if Nene is his dream woman, Sal replied, "Yes, she is. Her character changes to my liking as we talk and travel to different places."

Japan's Internet community has witnessed relationships and marriages to avatars, though it's typically been within the confines of the virtual world. Last month, Sal decided to be the first human-to-avatar union. Clad in a white tux, Sal married Nene in front of some friends and Web users watching the ceremony live online.

Video: Man 'marries' video game

The wedding, while not legally binding, was Sal's way of expressing his devotion to his avatar girlfriend.

"I love this character, not a machine," said Sal, when asked about whether he can love an electronic device. "I understand 100 percent that this is a game. I understand very well that I cannot marry her physically or legally."

The courtship began in September when he started playing the game, in which players nurture a deeper relationship through game play. Sal started carrying Nene around the streets of Tokyo and taking her to Disneyland and to a beach resort in Guam.

Sal says Nene is better than a human girlfriend. "She doesn't get angry if I'm late in replying to her. Well, she gets angry, but she forgives me quickly."

Asked if he's courtesy addicted to the game, he says, "If addiction is playing this every single day, then you might call me addicted." With Nene, Sal doesn't feel the need to find a human girlfriend, he added.

Hiroshi Ashizaki, an author who writes about Internet and game addiction, doesn't think Sal 9000 is an extreme case. What is healthy about Sal is that he can communicate with people enough to do an interview on CNN and webcast a half-serious wedding, Ashizaki said.

"There are many others who can't express themselves like Sal can, and those are the cases we worry about," says Ashizaki. What's important to note, Ashizaki says, is that Sal is a representative of many of Japan's young gamers.

"Today's Japanese youth can't express their true feelings in reality. They can only do it in the virtual world," Ashizaki said. "It's the reverse of reality that they can only talk about what they feel to a friend in the virtual world."

 
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