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Virtual Land

December 20, 2004

This story is a few days old now, but I think it’s so nifty that I wanted to mention it here.

A 22-year-old gamer has spent $26,500 on an island that exists only in a computer role-playing game. […]  The land exists within the game Project Entropia, an RPG which allows thousands of players to interact with each other.

"Okay, that’s stupid," you think.  But wait…there’s more.  He now gets to tax people who come to his virtual land and sell plots to folks who want to build their virtual houses on it.  Project Entropia has an actual economy (based on real currency, not imaginary gold ingots or credits).  This guy is brilliant.  If he turns a profit, I will personally send him some very nice chocolate as soon as I hear about it.

I got started with online interactive gaming in 1995 through BatMUD (any other BatMUDders out there?).  It was a text-based RPG based in Finland.  I met people (usually guys who were just thrilled an actual girl was playing) from Canada, Great Britain, Finland, Norway, Germany, and all over the states.  It was crazy fun for a college kid.  I often broke the rules in the college computer labs and BATmudded late into the night, having a second window up with some mock English paper in case I had to do a quick screen switch.  Ahhhh, the good old days.  Anyway, even back then, people were giving actual money in the real world to get virtual goods in BatMUD.  I remember some guy trying to sell me an enchanted cloak of some kind for $50.  College kid that I was, that was out of my range. 

I remember the not too distant days of the start of Diablo eBay auctions.  It’s still going on.  I always earned my EQ the hard way 😉

Anyway, I think this is indicative of things to come.  I think virtual land, virtual objects, will continue to gain value as people turn to these places to escape reality.  Just as NASCAR men turn to their car races, housewives turn to their soap operas, so we gamer folk turn to our RPGs.

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