The "meta" exchange

To legitimize virtual economies, one must first establish the "value" of virtual goods. Many people find it hard to fathom how a virtual good can have any real-world value. Surely one cannot physically touch or use a virtual item. You can never really "own" it in the sense that you cannot pick it up and take it with you. For the skeptics, virtual goods have a similar value to a movie or a TV show. Customers pay to see a movie for the entertainment it brings. They cannot take it with them when they leave, but its value lies in the experience. A virtual good's value is in the experience and entertainment it brings. Additionally, just as one gains a certain experience from going to a theater, one gains a comparable experience from using a vritual good in the confines of a virtual world. Part of the allure of the virtual world is the ability to see and do things that would be impossible in our everyday lives. Our fantasies aren't always otherworldly, as more realistic virtual worlds allow their users the opportunity to experience the life of luxury unobtainable to them due to social and economic status.

From a stricter economic standpoint the fact that people are willing to pay real money for virtual goods and currencies demonstrates the validity of virtual markets. IMVU's authorized resellers are essentially acting as the intermediaries between "countries." Even more compelling is the existance of the Frist Meta Exchange, a site that allows the exchange of one virtual currency for another, without having to first exchange a virtual currency into a real-world currency. Just as money can be moved freely between real countries, virtual currency can be moved between virtual communities. In that sense, inflation in a virtual world can have real-world impacts, given the ability to convert a virtual currency to a real-world currency. Additionally, virtual economies are no longer isolated from one another.

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