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Getting Paid to Play

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David Storey of Australia purchased a private island for $26,500. The sum may sound like a ridiculously cheap price. However, the island cannot be reached by any boat or plane because it's virtual. In other words, the place doesn't exist in the real world. It's part of a computer program for players in the role-playing game, Entropia. The island was recently recognized as the priciest virtual object ever purchased with real money by Guinness World Records.

You now may wonder if Storey is a little bit crazy. However, don't judge him so quickly because the twenty-seven year old graduate student currently earns more than $100,000 per year from the game. He is able to mix recreation and work. He runs the island like a rare game preserve, where hunters are taxed to use the land. He then exchanges the virtual money, known as Entropian dollars, for real cash. There are similar businesses online, like an asteroid space resort and a space station. If either of these properties were sold, they could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars!

People who are unfamiliar with online role-playing games may see the whole concept as ridiculous. Yet you have to give kudos to the gamers who have been able to succeed in an often competitive virtual world. David Storey and others like him don't just live from paycheck to paycheck. If they did so, then the money would suddenly dry up if they quit playing to take a vacation or deal with a personal crisis. Instead, these individuals are making a lot of money. Even the most cynical individual has to respect the money earned. Gamers like Storey are getting paid to play.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Title: Speculate and/or discuss the contents of today's article from its title: "Getting Paid to Play."

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. David Storey of Australia purchased...
  2. The island was recently recognized as the priciest virtual object ever...
  3. He runs the island like a rare game preserve, where...
  4. Yet you have to give kudos to the gamers who have been...
  5. Even the most cynical individual has...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Would you want to get paid for playing a video game? Why/not?
  2. Would you want to get paid for doing something you really love? Why/not?
  3. How is buying a virtual object different from buying luxury goods you don't really need?
  4. Are people like Storey just very lucky, or do they have some special quality?
  5. If someone you knew wanted to make money online, what sort of advice would you give?

Google Search: Type "online role-playing games" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


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