Monday, March 06, 2006

Virtual Cash

I've never been a fan of RPG/MMOs. They're too time consuming and seem like a glorified treadmill for your typing fingers. However, I guess some people make money by turning their virtual cash into real cash, from here:
You're reading the Business section, so that may not sound unusual. However, the purchase wasn't for my investment portfolio. And I'm not talking about real gold, either. But I did plunk down $60 of cold, hard cash in return for 500 virtual gold pieces for World of Warcraft, Blizzard's best-selling massively multiplayer online (MMO) adventure game.
Unfortunately the tax man doesn't care whether your asset is real or virtual if it holds some real world value. From what I've read (too lazy to find link) these assets represent a
real tax liability (be it virtual money, land , or anything else. Heck I read something about some guy leasing virtual mining rights on his virtual piece of land. Only a matter of time before he has to deal with the virtual EPA).


Marty Plumbo said...

This post reminded me of a little blurb in this month's Wired about so-called "virtual sweatshops" (VS's) popping up in Asia. They consist of low-wage types (gamers, students, etc.) who are paid to play various MMOG's solely to create and amass the various property items and spells and such that have value in those games. The people running the VS's then sell those items to "lazy", but more affluent, gamers. People have anticipated a virtual economy for these sort of intangible game-goods for years. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that they would be attended by all of the darker trappings (i.e. sweatshops) of a real economy once they did as well.

Evil Sandmich said...

I've heard of that but they've never been elevated above rumor status (though I don’t doubt it’s veracity), and I read in the same piece I cited that Korean gangs roam the servers looking for users who do not speak Korean, assuming if they don’t that they're gold mining Chinaman. I've heard of similar events on WoW with Americans vs. Chinamen, though the Multi-Culti policies on WoW can get you booted from the server if they catch you doing it.

Myself, and many others, find it interesting how the real world gets recreated in these virtual worlds, even apart from the economic factors. Given little administration, the users inevitability gel into clans that are managed much as a mini-fiefdom of like minded/similar individuals with a couple of high ranking players ruling the roost and often exploiting their fellow, lower ranking clansmen. By their nature though, the MMOs always sport an ‘other’ against which the clan can rally, be it Orcs versus Humans or whatnot. Probably one of the more interesting examples is that of an attempt to organize a clan of homosexual players within WoW and what the server administrators position should be if other clans decided to make a hobby of kicking the crap out them for sheets and giggles.