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Plugged In

From vow to WoW: Getting hitched in online games

Plugged In

Castle Defense

Church? Boring. The beach? Played out. Vegas? Puh-lease. The meteoric
growth of massively multiplayer games -- lead by genre-defining hit
World of Warcraft and its 12 million players -- means real-life couples
are increasingly looking to cement their relationship in their favorite
online world as well as in more traditional venues. We look through the
hows, wheres, whys, and whos of this growing phenom.


Where it all began

Vows, in Ultima Online - Andreas N.

People have been falling in love online ever since the invention of the modem,
but the first virtual wedding probably took a little longer to come about. Here's one from around 1998, in massively-multiplayer pioneer Ultima Online. Although it looks crude by today's standards, the simple graphics had their advantages -- no lag, according to this pic's poster, Andreas. Ultima's support staff often helped out with officiating the
ceremonies, too; you won't see that from mammoth Warcraft creator Blizzard. Ultima would add formal recognition of married couples in 2001, but as far as we know it never gave them a way to divorce.


Everquest: The pioneer

Flowers of Everquest

Ultima wasn't the only first-generation online game to encourage wedlock. Back
in 2006, Sony's global director of community relations told CNET about the company's efforts to support ceremonies in once-popular MMO Everquest.

"We'll bring (digital) wedding rings, cookies, milk, ale and wedding cake," he
said. "Usually, we have them in a nice, scenic area. If they were evil (characters), you would often have them in Neriak, the dark elf city. And if they were good...somewhere nice with a waterfall...Then we would pronounce them happily elves or trolls or whatever."

Last year, the game introduced a Wedding Package -- purchasable with real
money -- that gives happy couples a private chapel for them and up to 99
guests, magic wedding rings, virtual cake, and customizable flowers.


Second Life: Sky's the limit

Vegas, Second Life style - mk30

Although it's more of a social and creative tool than a game, online world
Second Life is perhaps better suited than anything else for e-marriages.
Because it lets players design and create any objects they can imagine,
the sky's the limit for the ceremony. Want to be serenaded by a brass
band? To fly all your guests to 40,000 feet, parachute out, and get
married mid-descent? Recreate your favorite real-world marriage venue
(as in the above rendition of Las Vegas's Little White Chapel)? It's all
possible.


An international marriage -- made in Dalaran

The happy couple

Online dating is a risky prospect: the odds are often good, but the goods are often odd. Luckily for Avlee and Erandel, who met under the shining domes
of Warcraft city Dalaran, it all seems to have worked out pretty well.
Overcoming an age difference and a substantial geographical separation
(she lived in Israel, he in the UK), the pair married first in Warcraft,
and then in real life last year. Bride Avlee sported a beautiful
wedding dress based on her character's in-game robes.


Marry in Warcraft, save on travel

Warcraft: these skies are actually friendly

Massachusetts couple Jef and Jin Yoon threw a unique second wedding back in 2007.
Shortly after tying the knot for real in Hawaii, they tied it all over again in Azeroth,
as their World of Warcraft alter egos Akma and Aquma. After renewing
their vows they followed up with a second reception at their real-world
house, letting friends who couldn't make the real thing share in their
happiness anyway. Remember: Warcraft's air transport system is a lot
cheaper than today's ever-growing air fares.


How to do it

View photo

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The blushing bride

Are
you planning to pop the e-question this Valentine's day? Assuming the
lucky lady, gentleman, or gnome says yes, our friends at the Yahoo!
Contributor network have got your back. Where to go? What to wear? Who
will officiate? Most importantly, where's my invite, and what are we all
going to drink? Contributor Lisa Mason will answer all your questions.


...and how not to do it

Word to the wise: planning Warcraft weddings isn't difficult, but there are
certain elementary mistakes you will want to avoid. Like, say, staging
it on a "PvP" server, where players on opposing sides can attack each
other without restrictions. Why? This is why (warning: occasional
language, and also Billy Idol).

Uh-oh...wedding crashers

Watch as Bathori, a stealthy, high-level rogue, sneaks into the church,
murders the bride, and proceeds to turn the whole proceeding into a
complete farce. It's a far cry from a dream day -- but we can't help but think that with just a couple of tweaks, it'd make for an unforgettable plot-twist moment in a Jennifer Lopez-style rom-com.


Cake: not a lie, after all

For the Horde!

Assuming you manage to avoid the attention of sneaky saboteurs, your problems
aren't over. There's bound to be more than a few real-life friends and
family who just won't take your online nuptials seriously. It is a game,
after all, but don't despair: even if a full-fledged virtual wedding is
just too nerdy, you can still indulge your gaming passion in a more
traditional setting. Check out this beautiful World of Warcraft-themed
cake, finished in faux wood grain and edible leather; it's the work of Art Eats Bakery in Greenville, SC.

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