Virtual property, literally

A gamer made headlines the other day when he sold a virtual asteroid for half a million dollars. He’d purchased the asteroid a few years back and then rented it out to people to hurt or mine on it. Now that the property’s appreciated, he’s sold it.

Remember: this is all via an online game. But the money is real.

The system works a lot like poker chips. Each bit of virtual money is tied to offline money, and in the game, the virtual money can buy virtual stuff. Hence, the virtual stuff is actually tied to offline money. Kah-BAM!

I like how amazed people are, though, about how much a virtual asteroid is worth. I’m definitely in that group.

But what’s interesting is that virtual property is really just as real if not more real than the dollars we use every day. Think about it: paper bills don’t have intrinsic value. They’re just a medium of exchange. Even gold is comparatively worthless from a practical perspective.

It sure makes me consider what value actually is. More and more, I’m realizing that value isn’t based on physical stuff. Instead, value is tied to feelings. We value stuff that makes us feel a certain way. And if we can quantify it and enough people agree and want it, we can trade it. Suddenly, it’s a currency, whether it’s physical or not.

The 1950’s called. They want their science fiction back.