Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Unreal Virtual Reality

We live in strange times. Last year's recession was devastating in its impact, yet the ringtone industry was flying high. There were more than four billion dollars spent on ringtones last year, I read somewhere.

Here's a story I find equally mind blowing, from BBC News, Sales of virtual goods boom in US.

Americans look set to spend $1bn (£600m) on virtual goods in 2009, claims a report.

The cash will be spent on add-ons for online games, digital gifts and other items that exist only as data.

Total spend on such items is expected to be up by 100% over 2008 and to double again by the end of 2010, said the analysts behind the report.

What kind of virtual goods are people buying? Well, a lot of game players want their avatars to have better gear, so they buy virtual bullet proof vests and weapons, I guess. On FaceBook people are buying virtual additions for their farms. I don't have a farm in Farmville, so I don't really know what they're getting. Maybe higher quality seed for the back forty? Maybe I can set up shop selling virtual sunblock to help farmers avoid getting a bad virtual sunburn while picking virtual corn.

My imagination runs down this path where a sixteen year son of missionaries to Zimbabwe is spending his allowance on virtual upgrades in Farmville while the village kids are starving and have no clean water. I try to imagine the conversation between Luke, he American teen abroad, and Ngugi, his village friend, who he wants to borrow money from in order to buy more virtual seeds. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around that one.

According to the article the virtual goods market has been growing rapidly in Asia and Europe for years. 2009 will be remembered as the year it came to America. Hmmm. Another import making us more dependent than ever on China? Maybe the U.S. can reverse this trend by printing more virtual money. What do you think?

Actually, if you wish to contribute to a good cause that helps feed hungry people abroad, check out Farms International. These are real people, doing real good, in a real needy world.


Christella said...

I really like the top painting. Is it real or memorex?

ENNYMAN said...

Yes, it is real. I had a small piece of wood which I had painted the background on. It is about 6" x 6"... and it sat around in my studio for about a year, then I did this.

Thanks for the comment.