A judge in China has denied a request from a woman divorcing her husband to divide the virtual assets they earned together over the course of their marriage.
Marriage is like an English sports car. When it's good, it's great, but when something breaks down - which happens with alarming frequency - it costs huge piles of money and makes you wonder why you ever traded in in your perfectly good little Toyota of sweet freedom in the first place. But one thing your soon-to-be-former spouse won't be able to drive away with, at least in China, are all those things you've picked up over the years that don't actually take up any parking space in the real world.
As part of their divorce proceedings, a Chinese woman requested that virtual assets earned by her and her husband over the course of their marriage be divided along with the rest of their property. The couple met in an online game and married near the end of 2008, and continued to play the games under a single account registered in the husband's name. When the split came, the man refused to give his wife what she believed to be her share of the virtual property, leading to her petition. But a Beijing court rejected the request, declaring that such matters can only be decided by the law "when virtual assets are related to the real world, such as when they have been valued with real currencies."
Of course, an awful lot of virtual property is valued with real currency, but whether that's the case in the games this couple was playing isn't known. The ruling would, however, appear to open the door to some interesting future arguments over the division of virtual property that does have real-world valuation.
According to the China Daily report, the couple had difficulty transitioning their blissful in-game togetherness to a real-life marriage. Each blamed the other for being lazy with the housework, until finally the wife couldn't take it anymore and filed for divorce. Probably a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.