Can’t get away from the real world in online games

From MSNBC, via Slashdot, what’s going on in massive multiplayer games boggles the mind.

A funny thing is happening in these sprawling online multiplayer arenas. The ultimate in digital escapism, virtual worlds keep ending up in the ultimate in depressing reality: the courts.

It goes onto to explain how players and game companies are engaging in legal battles over virtual activity. However, this is the quote that got me to sit up:

Digital sweatshops, businesses where [real]Third World laborers play online games 24/7 in order to create virtual goods that can be sold for cash, are also on the rise.

Apparently players can buy digital goods on sites like eBay as a way to enhance their playing experience. One such sweatshop produces digital weaponry that is then auctioned off for real money. To give you a sense of the kind of money we’re talking about, a digital island on eBay recently was auctioned for $30,000. That’s $30,000US in real money to buy a virtual piece of property.

For more information on virtual worlds and the law, check out the conference, State of Play.

To bring it back to the topic of the blog, I wonder if there is any environmental regulation in these digital worlds? Can we have a clean air act in EverQuest?

4 Responses to “Can’t get away from the real world in online games”

  1. pete says:

    I wonder if anyone has tried building or buying WMDs for use in their virtual worlds? Imagine the look on the player’s face who paid $30K US when his private island is vapourized! Sweet!

  2. sieber says:

    And virtual U.N. weapons inspectors to determine the whereabouts of the virtual WMDs.

  3. Liam says:

    Ah, but who needs such virtual WMD’s in virtual reality when they already exist fictionally in our reality.

  4. sieber says:

    Good point