[Cross-posted on The Agitator.]
Just a quick thought on the phenomenon -- noted by Baylen Linnekin among others -- of people using real-world money to purchase virtual-world goods and services (e.g., I pay a real person $40 via PayPal in exchange for his EverQuest character giving my EverQuest character a Blood-Bladed Dagger). Naturally, as an economist, I find the blurring of the line between real and virtual economies fascinating. But I won't consider the line gone until I see the reverse phenomenon: people using virtual-world money to purchase real-world goods and services (e.g., a Swedish woman gives me a real back massage in exchange for my EverQuest character giving her EverQuest character 50 gold pieces). Anyone know if that's happened yet? And dare I even mention the tax policy and monetary policy implications of such transactions becoming common?
(By the way, I never got involved in online role-playing, so I can't claim to have experienced even the original phenomenon.)