One dark cloud I saw on the horizon was, of course, the lawyers. Where money changes hands, someone is eventually going to get mad and sue. Has the RedBedlam team run into any legal issues? "When you get kicked out of the arcade center for misbehaving, no one's going to listen to your complaints about the tokens you bought that morning," he responds. When you're spending money - and this is the way virtual economics should work, I think - when you're spending money, you're spending it then.
"Nobody's trying to set up a new World Bank here, and I think it's wrong for people to try and do that. A character in a database isn't something people [should] eat and drink and live and die off of," he says. "We'd like to keep that delineation between the two. You're spending [the money] then, well, if the guy who bought $10,000 worth of sesterces went down a dark alley and lost it all," He's quick to point out this is impossible, but continues with the example. "That would be entirely his own fault. I'd have no sympathy for him whatsoever."
As to the legal side of it, "I don't think he'd have any legal recourse, either, he's exchanged his money for tokens. It's a silly argument really. [...]I think the MUD developer people are much more comfortable with [these sorts of communities]. There's all sorts of people out there that understand that. And the game developers are coming at it, very much sort of the new kids on the block, encountering the new sorts of scary things. And since they're the new kids on the block, and they're sort of pop stars, celebrities, they bring mainstream media with them, which is a good thing and a bad thing, because they mess it up."
So, in closing, I ask if VP is going to continue tiptoeing toward legitimacy. Are we watching the dying throes of the last generation? "I think the resistance to it comes from, well, people just don't understand it. Often, when something new and powerful comes along, there's a lot of distrust. And immediately, stories pop up on why you should distrust it, and everyone says, 'See? Told you so, told you so.' And then, we look back a few years later and go, 'Well, that was a flash in the pan, it was part of a much bigger story.' I think that's what's happening. It's a fairly seismic change. People have acknowledged that virtual stuff can have value to real people. That ain't goin' away ever."
Millionaire playboy Shannon Drake lives a life on the run surrounded by Japanese schoolgirls and videogames. He also writes about anime and games for WarCry.