Friday, July 28, 2006

The virtual/RL line blurs

Mark Oehlert has a post about buying a real book in a virtual world with virtual money. I had to read it twice before I figured out how it works, and I'm still not completely sure I've got it right!

Years ago, when Dungeons and Dragons first came to prominence, a story did the rounds about a bunch of students who played this game so much that they became both obsessed and sleep deprived and lost track of the line between the virtual world and the real one. One the players allegedly murdered his parents in RL as a way of accessing his inheritance in order to do/acquire something in the virtual world, having completely overlooked the fact that the RL money (had he got it instead of prison time) could not make the transfer into the virtual world (real money won't buy you that hotel on Fleet Street in a game of Monopoly, either). The story might have been entirely apocryphal, but it was used by many parents to encourage their kids to balance their RL/virtual world experiences.

And here we are, a few years later: buying real things with virtual money.


Mark said...

Hey Karyn - yeah this was a bit confusing first-hand as well. When I went to the place in Second Life(SL) where the book signing was held, there were two piles of books you could buy to get signed ("buy" with Linden dollars, the in-world currency of SL). One buy just gave you a virtual, SL copy of the book and the other allowed to buy both a virtual and a physical copy. If you picked the latter, SL called up your browser window and took you to the publisher's Web site where you put in your mailing address, etc.

The kick was that the only currency I ever used was Linden dollars. So "money" that had never existed in the physical world, was used to purchase a physical book. I don't know what sort of thing happened behind the scenes - if the publisher converted their newly acquired Linden dollars into physical currency or what but it sure sparked a lot of possibilities.

Anonymous said...

The mind boggles. I just know I don't have the sort of thinking it takes to follow this through to its logical conclusion, but it's going to be some journey!