Teens and Virtual Goods: The Fun, Useful and Affordable Luxuries that are Driving the Virtual Economy
Virtual worlds are quickly becoming a popular way for teens–especially younger teens 13-16 years of age–to spend time connecting with existing friends while searching for new contacts. According to KZero, in the third quarter of last year alone, 92 million new, unique users joined virtual worlds. However, as virtual worlds grow, teens are looking for more opportunities beyond just building their personal networks. Enter virtual goods–items users can earn or purchase to express themselves creatively or to gain status among their peers in a community. Those who have not spent time in online communities and worlds find it difficult to understand the motivation for purchasing virtual goods. But buying them or completing tasks to earn them is fun and challenging, in the exact same way shopping or playing games in the real world is fun and challenging. For example, some virtual goods provide an immediate advantage in games or contests, some help express your personal styles and interests, and some can be sent as gifts to friends. Sometimes people buy virtual goods because they’re impatient or competitive and don’t want to wait the number of days it would take to earn them for free. But fundamentally, virtual goods are entertainment–they make it fun to interact with friends and express personal styles.
virtual worlds; teen; virtual goods
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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org