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Sep 08, 2010

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1.

To say nothing of the fact that language itself is "unreal," in the sense that it's a set of metaphoric symbols used to convey ideas, which also aren't real. Not the way that, say, a corn dog, Blythe Danner or the Atlantic Ocean are real. And when I say, "a corn dog, Blythe Danner or the Atlantic Ocean," I mean, of course, the Royal Navy.

Novels aren't real and people have been paying money for them for centuries. 'Nuff said.

2.

As a hermeneutic fictionalist myself, I'm quite open to their characterisation of virtual items as "pretend". But as you say, other than the fact that as a newspaper their throughput is authorised as "fact", they're not on significantly higher ontological ground! :) The New York Times is still a prop that prescribes specific imaginings, it's just that we are also prescribed to imagine that what we make-believe in its game is "true" or "real".

There is no great difference between one fiction (say, virtual items) and another (say, money). I just *love* this claim that they trade "real" money for "pretend" items... It may be make-believe that they are items, but they are "real" props in at least the sense that the money exchanged is real! :)

Stephen Yablo has some great papers building on Walton's make-believe theory of representation which shows that *numbers* are best understood as fictions - in fact, it is the only coherent way to interpret mathematics: as a logically validated game of make-believe. The number 5, for instance, is no more a real ontic entity than those virtual items (or the money paid for them).

All the best!

3.

I love the revision they added to the article as of today:

"The Advertising column on Tuesday, about real companies entering the online market for virtual goods, misstated the number of users of Mall World, a Facebook social game that offers a virtual replica of the singer Beyoncé’s diamond ring. It has 4.75 million users a month, not 400,000."

Woops to orders of magnitude. lol

4.

I do not think it is so simple to scoff at the statement that these virtual things being sold do not exist. Virtual, after all, means simulated or artificial.

In a sense, the virtual things sold by the aforementioned folks do not exist. Rather, they are merely constructs, concepts, or expressions. This depends on a specific use of the word exist, but it is a use that is nonetheless prevalent, popularly held, and based on real philosophical and legal grounds.

In an opposite sense, those virtual things do exist because, as it has been argued, existence does not depend upon the tangible. My words exist whether or not they are fixed in tangible medium of expression from which they can later be perceived. Similarly, my thoughts and ideas, my emotions, and more exist even if they are not communicated.

In another sense, are virtual items 'things?' In other words, do they carry, and can they carry the status of object, or item, or artifact, or device? If so, can my thoughts or expressions carry the same?

If they cannot truly be classified as a thing, but they do exist, then is it entirely wrong to use labels such as "pretend items" in lieu of the term "virtual items?" After all, one definition of virtual is "make believe," which is rather close to the definition of "pretend."

5.

Paying "real" money for "virtual" items? Having bought a few, I don't recall sending cash by mail, and receiving a disk with which to install my virtual items. Actually, I used money that was automatically credited to my bank account, and paid by card. A few numbers changed on different sides of the globe. No real money was used, and I wouldn't be surprised if physical currency was completely unaffected. There's probably something to say here considering the unreality of money in the West (USA particularly), where so many live in (considerable) debt.

6.

Paying "real" money for "virtual" items? Having bought a few, I don't recall sending cash by mail, and receiving a disk with which to install my virtual items. Actually, I used money that was automatically credited to my bank account, and paid by card. A few numbers changed on different sides of the globe. No real money was used, and I wouldn't be surprised if physical currency was completely unaffected. There's probably something to say here considering the unreality of money in the West (USA particularly), where so many live in (considerable) debt.

7.

Real money is more an economic term than a descriptive term. By real-money transaction an economist distinguishes transactions involving in-game currency versus those involving currency backed by a sovereign nation.

Sure, the New York Times journalist is not using the term in perhaps the most clear manner. That does not change the fact that 'real' money is monetary value backed by a sovereign nation. Now, how you wish to view said monetary value is another matter.

Money has always had a bit of intangibility to it. This occurs as soon as an economic system moves away from a barter economy. Gold coins and other representations of value are just that: representations of value. They are not the value themselves.

This level of abstraction has only increased as our willingness and ability to create less and less tangible representations of value has increased. Now, as commenter 'fools' above states, we change a few numbers here and there and, voila, value has transferred.

On another interesting money/property side note: Many people tend to think of the money in their bank account as their money; their property. It is not.

Rather, money in your bank account is not your money, it is money owed to you by the bank. The bank holds legal title to the money, owes a fiduciary trust to you, and you are owed an amount equal to that in your account as long as you follow prescribed withdrawal guidelines.

I have always thought this an interesting example of how we tend to gloss over the details of ownership and obligation, allowing both to bleed into one another in our perceptions. This leads to trouble when one tries to articulate coherent theories of obligation (contract) and property.

8.

I never thought that would be a problem. facebook also sell credits for real money, my friends buy FFXVI Gil. "Paying money for things that don't exist." Isn't that totally normal? Does fame exist, does power exist, does friendship, belongingship, happiness exist like a bread you can hold in hands? Of coure not! But people pay for that!

9.

As a gamer educator, my reaction is similar to Castronova only I'm focused on a culture of authenticity that is education. Until this piece came out, a relative few teachers in my twitter network had anything to say about games or gaming. All but the gamer-teachers or games scholars or game developers were talking about the value of gaming. Now suddenly, gaming for learning is great, wonderful and important - thanks to Big Media's stamp of approval. This informs my own decision to take a break from classroom teacher to focus on emergent research - as I'm not sure that schools are spaces where the real 21 C learning is happening. I wrote a post of my own in response which I've linked to above.

10.

just heard an interesting case recently. A guy went to the police and said his two year old wow account was stolen, because he's spend a lot of time and money on that. As he said. over 2000 Euro of worth is gone. It's legitimate for him to report it to the police.

11.

I would have read your post Edward but, as with this comment, neither exist.

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