At State of Play V in Singapore, Joshua Fairfield and I had one of our regular arcane discussions about the various merits or otherwise of real-money trading (essentially, the conflict between financial capital and gaming capital in these environments).
That's not what this post is about.
What this post is about is our different perceptions of the extent of RMT in today's virtual worlds, in particular WoW.
In Josh's experience (Horde, PvP server), RMT was endemic, being treated by the players as little worse than driving 10% over the speed limit in real life. Sure, if you went 50% over the speed limit you'd expect to be punished, but if you were pulled up for being 10% over you'd feel aggrieved.
In my experience (Alliance, PvE server), RMT was rare, being treated by the players as the equivalent of driving 10% over the alcohol limit in real life. Even if you were 1% over the limit, you'd expect to be punished if caught.
Are we both right? Or are we both seeing what we want to see? Are game-style virtual worlds going through some kind of paradigm shift, in which RMT is regarded as part and parcel of playing them, or is resolve stiffening? Is what people say about RMT in public at odds with what they do in practice? What might their reasons be?
Remember, I'm not asking whether RMT is good or bad, I'm asking which way the tide is flowing (and, if you like, why).