Castles in the Air

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We’re taking a walk on the virtual side, where online gamers roam lands in which real men and women never set foot. In the kingdoms of Norrath, Britannia, and Albion, wired warriors who live as burnt out construction workers or bored secretaries by day, get to fight tigers, lead galactic civil wars, and live in their own castles. But in this virtual existence, the old rules, like the one that says the guy with the most money wins, are starting to take hold.

Some online gamers are paying real money for virtual armaments and objects that improve their position. Some say that’s cheating. Others claim it’s just the old economy conquering and constraining these new worlds.


Julian Dibbel, author, journalist, and trader of virtual goods

Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT

John Dugger, owner of a tower mansion in Britannia, the fictional world of the game Ultima online, and salesman for Wonder Bread.