Although many western MMO gamers profess a distaste for all things RMT, it's definitely become an aspect of these games and virtual worlds that we're all aware of to some degree. But it wasn't always that way. In fact, it wasn't so long ago that the notion of people working in virtual settings and earning real world wealth was, quite frankly, bizarre.
Julian Dibbell was one of the first journalists to expose the idea of RMT and the possible existence of 'virtual sweatshops' to mainstream readers years ago, before such ideas and practices became almost commonplace in virtual worlds and MMOs. Dibbell has continued on with this tradition since the days of writing about Black Snow Interactive, more recently in his book 'Play Money' and with a piece he's written for Wired, titled "The Decline and Fall of an Ultra Rich Online Gaming Empire."
The article focuses on the life and times of Brock Pierce, a former child actor who went on to become one of the most famous (or infamous) individuals ever involved with real-money trading. Dibbell's piece follows the course of Brock Pierce's life, progressing from his early days as a multi-boxing EverQuest gamer, to the realization that he could earn a living -- a very comfortable living -- from buying and selling virtual items and currency. Ultimately, it highlights the rise and fall of the now-infamous RMT giant Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE).
As with most of Dibbell's stories linked to the virtual, this latest Wired piece does not disappoint. "The Decline and Fall of an Ultra Rich Online Gaming Empire" is a detailed look at how one man pioneered a virtual empire and made a fortune by dealing in the ephemeral.