Virtual Careers and “Cyber-Accesorising”

Within the gaming community the concept of a well-known competitive game player cutting deals with sponsors isn’t new. Organizations like the Cyberathlete Professional League and names like Kornelia (the “Queen of Quake”) are already well-embedded in how many of us think of the videogame industry – it’s not just for teenagers anymore (which statistical research has already confirmed). So when BusinessWeek online starts off an article talking about how some videogame player is raking in the dough, the question running through my mind isn’t “What’s the big deal?”, it’s “When will it cease being a big deal?”

To their credit, BusinessWeek doesn’t dwell on that morsel, which to me means the word is finally getting out. That then gets us to the meat of the story: “cyber-accesorising”[sic]. From BusinessWeek’s article:

Kart Rider’s online store offers more than 100 digital items such as special $1 paint jobs and tools like 40¢ balloons that can protect a player’s car by lifting it above the track when an opponent launches a missile (90¢). The most expensive car will set you back $9.80 (it handles a bit better than one costing $1.50).

“Most of my classmates play Kart Rider, and I want to look cool in the game,” says 9-year-old Park Kun Hee, who recently bought an avatar costing $2.50, a car for $3.50, goggles for $2.50 (to see through smoke thrown off by opponents), and more. His father cut him off after he spent $150 on the digital stuff.

In case anyone isn’t following this, we’re talking volume; the very thing that made Wal*Mart the world’s 800-lb retail gorilla. So while BusinessWeek might be reporting on a company doing this today, it’d be really simple for an individual to do it in the very near future (and some already are) – especially with Sony and Microsoft building the virtual stores. Considering the volumes, I’m predicting we’ll be reading about some instant millionaire soon. Very soon.

(Does anyone remember the stories about kids running up phone bills when phone sex hit the scene? And the more recent stories about kids running up cell phone bills? Get ready for the news stories.)