This isn�t exactly about a hi-tech gadget; it�s subtler then that.
I�ll start with this because it brings something up that�s always nagged me while I played Bias. �Men play as women characters partly for the kinky thrill, but also because female characters are given random presents of free stuff by other players, a chivalric custom known as "gifting." I�ve always wondered if this sort of behaviour was because of a pity factor, chivalry factor or what? The supposedly �hard-core� world of Withmore tends to be generous, I lost count how often Bias would be given something for nothing even though action/description wise she was covered in sewage, strung out, hissing and visibly spending a lot of cash on booze and drugs... As amusing as the small section about female characters and their worth is, it�s likely only thought provoking for a feminist economics student or two. The article becomes useful further down when it points out that while players love a level playing field, �It seems that we definitely do not want everybody to have the same stuff all the time; people find it boring."
And from there it brings up the debate about who, exactly, owns virtual property. �If enough people treat their Robe of Primordial Waters as though it's genuine personal property, the law might respect that � no matter what the game companies say.�
�For now, there is no clear precedent on how to deal with virtual property. Owning a virtual castle is not like owning other virtual things, such as stock in a company, because the value is not in an external, tangible object such as a corporation, but in the work and money invested in acquiring it.� Gee, what an odd concept. The writer mentions IGE, a company that buys and sells virtual goods as well as Black Snow Interactive. They also mention a recent game-currency exchange set up in Toronto.
It�s not the freshest article written about the melding of virtual and real economies, but it�s a quick, informative read from a newish mag. In the same issue there's an article on mercenaries doing none profit peace keeping work. (reminded me of Lucifer when I read it. :P) http://www.walrusmagazine.com/article.pl?sid=04/04/27/1912249&tid=1