The WSJ has a pretty neat look at the small (but growing) number of kids who have found ways to earn money in various MMO’s like Second Life and World of Warcraft:
“As the pool of traditional summer jobs shrinks, tech-savvy young gamers are honing their computer skills to capitalize on growing demand for virtual goods and services. Some work as fashion designers, architects and real-estate developers in Second Life, a fantasy world populated by digital representations of real people. These so-called avatars shop in malls, buy property, hang out with friends or sit “home” watching TV, all manipulated by their real-life counterparts with computer key strokes and a mouse.”
Although many in the adult world have seen little economic benefit to in-game businesses you might be surprised to learn that, “On a typical day, Second Life players spend close to $1.5 million on virtual clothes, jewelry, homes, cars and real estate.” That’s real (ok US$) money.
It’ll be interesting to see how fast the most successful kids in this realm are bought out or co-opted by the major corporations that have failed to make a dent in the same marketplace.