Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 17/12/2004"Buy land", the old saying used to go. "They're not making any more.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Friday 17/12/2004

"Buy land", the old saying used to go. "They're not making any more."

Leaving aside pedantic responses about Holland, this used to be true. But now, the news comes that an online gamer has just paid nearly £14,000 on a virtual island in Project Entropia. The news reports concentrate on the abandoned castle, the mining rights and the ability to sell on parcels of land for development -- which raises the deeply depressing idea that somebody is taking the time and trouble to play a character in a rich and exciting fantasy virtual world only to become an estate agent.

This is all most strange. The creators of the game really can make more any time they like, which rather messes up the scarcity mechanism that governs land price in real life, and as far as I know the characters in these games don't enjoy the same sort of property and inheritance laws that we do. What happens if the character gets grazed to death by a passing gnu? What if the other inhabitants of the land of Entropia have a revolution, declare all property to be theft and impose central control of all natural resources in the name of the proletariat?

I am deeply concerned. Moreover, my trousers are getting curiously warm. I think it's time to lay down my keyboard and disappear until 2005 -- so have a small dry sherry on me, don't eat too much plum duff, and see you on the other side.

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