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.

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.