From the Flint Journal:

Having spikes driven through your wrists and feet isn't the worst part of this kind of crucifixion.

It's the mockery of your peers that's hardest to swallow.

Just ask "Cynewulf," a 27-year-old Burton resident who was hanging around - on a cross - for a week in a video game world where he's been branded a criminal.

The punishment was nothing to scoff at. It drew the attention of gamers across the world, making headlines on gaming Web sites.

His was the first crucifixion carried out in the new Internet game "Roma Victor," set in Roman-occupied Britain. Players create their own characters.

Cynewulf's customized character - a barbarian given to violent rampages -was taken down from the cross early last week.

His crime? "Killing" other players who were trying to re-enter the game.

"It was surprisingly agonizing for just being a game," Cynewulf said an e-mail about the crucifixion. "Being jeered at by the Romans while immobilized is not much fun, particularly since they are all weaklings who deserve to die by my sword."

Apparently, Cynewulf, who did not reveal his real-life identity, has yet to repent.

RedBedlam, the British company that created the game, crucified Cynewulf - placing his online persona in limbo - to let him and everyone else know less-than-sporting actions won't be tolerated.

"The beautiful thing about this method of punishment is other players can see it," said Kerry Fraser-Robinson, president and managing director of RedBedlam. "It shows them criminals are being punished. We will reserve crucifixion for crimes like using third-party software and cheating."

You know, pretty much like the Romans did.

All things considered, Cynewulf - who's now back in the game - sounds like he's not too bothered about having received the ultimate reprimand.

"At least this punishment was designed to fit into the actual history of the time period," he said. "On the whole, I suppose that I am OK with the punishment."

Gamers, who often lose themselves in online worlds that have historical, fantasy or futuristic settings, take their characters and the rules of each virtual society seriously.

"Besides the role-play aspect, the satisfaction of stabbing an enemy until he falls and then giving him the final deathblow while he lies helplessly at your feet is pretty rewarding in itself," Cynewulf said. "Killing other players in 'Roma Victor' is a bit like popping sheets of plastic bubble-wrap.

"It becomes strangely addictive somehow."

Players, who access the game through the Internet, can choose to have their characters do a variety of things, from farming to committing murder.

"We've taken great pains about historical accuracy," Fraser-Robinson said.

Currently in a test run, the perfected game should be up and running by the end of June. Cynewulf, who's been playing the game for the past 10 months, is one of several thousand players.

The ability to do almost anything in an online role-playing game is what attracts most players, said gamer Jason Weber of Fenton.

"The first time I started off, I was good-natured. I did want power, but I also wanted to help people along the way," said Weber, 21. "Now, I'm usually the type who is a murderer, and I don't have a problem ruining peoples lives.

"I don't have a problem killing people."

Weber said games allow users to experience worlds they can't in everyday life.

"It's just an outside fantasy thing," he said. "It's not something you can go outside and start doing normally. You have certain talents, and you can apply them to another world."

Delving into supernatural lands filled with kings, warlords and gnomes is commonplace.

In the comparatively down-to-earth world of "Roma Victor," Cynewulf (yes, that's a barbarian name) says he will continue terrorizing all those who cross his path.

"Mainly, I was attracted to 'Roma Victor' because it did not have the outlandish fantasy elements," he said. "That's just not my preferred genre of game. I like a larger dose of realism in my games."

By the way, if you want to check out the game for yourself, it's on the web, of course ...