Spending good money on nothing, it’s not a new concept.

Dis­clos­ure: I’m involved with an organ­iz­a­tion that has vir­tu­al goods and cur­rency  — and yes, you can exchange real money for vir­tu­al goods in it.

fv_250.jpgThe vir­tu­al eco­nomy is heat­ing up. GigaOm reports that Face­book Could Make $250M From Vir­tu­al Goods Next Year; make money from stuff that isn’t tan­gible. Stuff you can’t hold in your hands. Yet, the concept of vir­tu­al isn’t really new, it’s really just a new label applied to an ancient concept.

It is kind of inter­est­ing, when you think of it. For the vast major­ity of human his­tory, ideas used to be the only type of non-phys­ic­al ‘object’ that people would pay money for — ideas mani­fes­ted as stor­ies, con­cepts, music, inven­tions, etc.

Someone had to come up with the idea. And if it was good, then someone paid for that idea.

Then, the idea had to be trans­formed into real­ity — a play, a sym­phony, a build­ing per­haps. The idea becomes phys­ic­al (for a short time if you’re wit­ness­ing a per­form­ance). But still you have the phys­ic­al mani­fest­a­tion of some­thing cre­ated in the mind of someone.

Today, we have the vir­tu­al mani­fest­a­tion of ideas. Vir­tu­al in that when they mani­fest, they exist only in the medi­um they were designed for — a Farm­ville farm lov­ingly ten­ded and nur­tured by someone using a key­board and mouse. Or an Elvish Arch­er who’s vir­tu­al skills and abil­it­ies have been care­fully selec­ted and honed.

Today’s vir­tu­al goods eco­nomy is won­der­ful, excit­ing, and offers huge new oppor­tun­it­ies that didn’t exist before — from the swet­shop gold­farm­er to the (mobile-device-app-store) developer– doing work that has no phys­ic­al mani­fest­a­tion can be both a pas­time and a career.

But it shouldn’t sur­prise us that people and organ­iz­a­tions can make money in this way — because we’ve been doing it for thou­sands of years. Only this medi­um is new.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Portal 2: Cute video!

Yeah, after play­ing Portal through a few times, both on the Xbox and the PC, I was happy to see that Portal 2 will be arriv­ing on shelves in the new year. If this video is any indic­a­tion, it’s going to be quite fun — espe­cially with co-op mode.

4 Reasons I’m looking forward to Halo Reach

Yep, it’s out today (at 00:00 hrs tech­nic­ally), and no, I don’t have a copy, yet.

My wife and I have been big fans of the Halo fran­chise since we star­ted play­ing it co-op on the ori­gin­al Xbox years ago when it came out. Multi-play­er was nev­er our thing, but co-op, now there’s fun.

So yes, I’ll be pick­ing it up soon, and yes, there will be many even­ings when we’re ensconced in our base­ment, a nice romantic fire, and the gentle sound of gun­fire and gren­ades — good times.

And here’s four reas­ons why:

1. Huge storyline and story
Though this is the last Halo game that Bungie (the game’s developers) will be pro­du­cing, Halo Reach actu­ally takes place earli­er in the series story arc — weeks before the events por­trayed in Halo: Com­bat evolvled, the first Halo game.

By being a sort-of pre­quel, I’m expect­ing to under­stand more of the game uni­verse — and will also cause me to dust off my Halo, Halo2 and Halo 3 discs to play through those games again. I don’t have ODST, but am temp­ted to pick it up to be a com­ple­tion­ist :smileyhappy:

2. Famil­i­ar uni­verse and game­play
As I men­tioned above, I’m famil­i­ar with the Halo exper­i­ence. This means I don’t really have to learn a new con­trol sys­tem, learn how to nav­ig­ate the world, and how enemies react. I’m guess­ing that’s 30% of the learn­ing curve, and I’ve already got it down. Bring it on!

3. Co-op
The BEST part of the Halo series so far. Co-op game­play lets you and friends help each oth­er through the chal­lenges of the game. Halo was really the first FPS my wife and I could enjoy togeth­er. Gears of War also does this well, but Halo has a spe­cial place in my heart as a thing we can do ‘togeth­er’.

4. Qual­ity
Game after game, Bungie has won awards for each ver­sion of Halo, all of them point to a qual­ity title that doesn’t dis­ap­point. No mat­ter what my level of FPS skill was, the Halo series always man­aged to chal­lenge and keep me enter­tained.

Well, I’m sure there are more good reas­ons for check­ing it out, but for me those are the big ones. How ‘bout you? Why will you be pick­ing up Halo Reach?

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Projector marries gun: Offspring is one cool little shooter

One of the neatest recent devel­op­ments in tech is the pico pro­ject­or. Basic­ally this is a tiny little device, a little smal­ler than a paper­back, that packs fairly good pro­jec­tion tech­no­logy into that little size. But what can you do with such a little thing… …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techb­log. Check out the full post here.

Old school dungeon crawling on the iPhone

Last week Torch­light was released. Future Shop Techb­log­ger Mat­thew Kumar wrote a great over­view of the game. But there was a time, way back in the last cen­tury, when sim­il­ar com­puter games were played without the bene­fit of 3D graph­ic cards, Dolby Sur­round Sound, or mice and gamepad macro pro­gram­ming applic­a­tions. Strap your­self into the way-back machine ’cause we’re going to look at the pro­gen­it­ors of Torch­light, Diablo, and any oth­er hack ‘n slash dun­geon crawl, and we’re going to use the iPhone / iPod Touch to do it. …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techb­log. Check out the full post here.