Virtual Economy

There’s quite an interesting article over at Wired magazine about the intersection of the virtual & real economy, as it relates to MMORPGs. It’s an old article, true, but I only just discovered it (at Kottke.org, incidentally). I find it fascinating that people get so involved in their online games that they’re willing to spend real money to get these virtual goods. I can’t even be convinced that these online games are worth their monthly subscription costs at this point. The people interviewed do seem somewhat lonely types, who perhaps only have meaningful interactions at this point through their game, in which case buying these things may be worthwhile to them, if it brings popularity in this virtual world. I remember playing in the Elendor MUSH back in the text-only days, and I heard that someone ‘bought’ someone else’s character, it became quite the scandal there. And now such things appear commonplace, to the point that the game developers themselves have got in on the act, selling virtual wares for their games, in real life.

Although, with the stock market, I wonder really just how different it is to buy stocks in something vs. buying a virtual house? Or buying an MP3, which exists only digitally?