Virtual worlds have often been called the digital equivalent of the Wild West, where animated alter egos can live in a fantasy frontier. But in some of these universes, a sheriff has come to town.
Slipping a four-letter word into an instant message now could land a user in a virtual timeout. Repeated attempts to make friends with an uninterested character could result in a loss of blogging privileges. And if convicted of starting a "flame war," or an exchange of hostile messages, a user may endure the ultimate punishment -- permanent exile.
A virtual world for mobile devices, called Cellufun, has established a courthouse, where rule-breakers are indicted by their peers and tried by a jury of other community members. If found guilty of a charge, such as using profanity, users must carry out varying levels of sentences, from being mute for 20 minutes to being banished.
For the duration of punishment, a user's avatar -- a cartoon version of his or her real-life self -- is pictured behind bars.
Read more at - 'Virtual Worlds Get Real About Punishment'