Fellow blogger, Canary Beck recently posted some startling figures about the colossal amount of real money that is being spent on virtual goods in sl. Forget Bitcoin, the linden is more than capable of holding its own as a virtual currency, and it seems that we demonstrate little or no reticence when it comes to splashing the virtual cash, even though the actual goods we’re purchasing are hardly what you’d call tangible assets.
My own inworld spending habits have changed considerably over time. As a noob, i was a very late starter – it was quite some time before i would even consider spending my hard-earned money on virtual commodities. However, once i’d made my first tentative move into inworld splurging, there was no stopping me!
Even so, i was pretty sensible about such things: every month, i’d set a budget and – no matter how tempting or compelling the shiny things that vied for my readies – i’d stick to it, and that was that. Indeed, i was so well-behaved that i considered myself somewhat of a failure if i couldn’t maintain a balance above a particular minimum level, and i took pride in never having to inject real world cash into the virtual world more than once a month. Despite such frugality, if i stopped to think about how much i was lavishing on virtual goods – and believe me, it wasn’t a lot; i’d probably spend more on a cheap night out at the pub than i was spending in sl over the course of a month – it made me feel terribly guilty. Shouldn’t i be saving my pennies for a rainy day, buying household essentials like Beluga caviar, or investing in high risk hedge funds, rather than frittering away my earnings on pixel shoes?
Quite possibly there were better things to do with my cash and, having realised that sobering truth, i decided to apply myself to the pursuit of making sl pay for itself. Convinced i could make it in the world of virtual retail, i plunged into the fray, only to find:
1. It’s damned hard work, long hours and takes far more skill and talent than i possessed;
2. The cost of setting up and running a virtual business, can virtually bankrupt you;
3. Nobody wants to buy furniture made of cheese. (It seemed like a good idea at the time!)
[If you’re thinking of starting up in business, i’ll happily sell you a great big neon sign with those three points emblazoned upon it, which you can keep in a handy spot on your build platform as a subtle reminder – i’ll even throw in a free Edam chair, if you like!]
Cue disappointment, disillusion and dismay and a gradually dawning realisation that i’d rather be having fun and spending my money, than having a hard time trying to earn the damn stuff. However, my experiences were actually beginning to teach me something – i finally came to the mindblowing conclusion that there’s actually nothing at all wrong with paying for something you enjoy. It’s not as if there was much in the way of fun things i’d be spending my money on outside the virtual world and as long i stayed sensible it wasn’t likely to become burdensome… so why not relax and enjoy it?
So i did, and i still am!
That’s not to say that my spending habits haven’t changed – these days almost all my sl spend goes into renting my little plot of land, if i do splash my lindens on anything, it’s usually a particular item i need for a project. My spend on clothing has dwindled to a pitiful amount – a complete reversal of my buying habits a few years back: the truth is, (and you never thought you’d hear me say this), i have far more clothes than i will ever be able to wear – my shoes alone would fill a small warehouse! Some things however haven’t changed: i still hate my balance dipping below my arbitrarily set minimum; i’m still pretty savvy when it comes to spotting a real bargain; and, no matter how hard i try, i’m still pretty certain i don’t have what it takes to make money in sl.
i’ll finish with a salutory tale – and a bit of a sordid confession! As a noob, i was convinced that lindens couldn’t possibly be that hard to come by – you just needed to find your niche and start coining it in – and so started my career as a pole dancer, a career that lasted all of one evening! At the end of my debut, i’d earned the princely sum of $L50 – not from any of the punters though – the money in my tipjar was solely as a result of the benevolence of the girl on the pole next to me, who obviously thought i needed it more than her! The lesson i learned that night was more valuable than the cash – and i never tried poledancing again!
I’ve got the brains
You’ve got the looks
Let’s make lots of money
Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)