Blaine, WI resident, Geoff Luurs fell victim to a heinous crime. His "friend" obtained his user name and password and wiped his FFXI account clean. Luurs did the math and claims that he lost over $3800 worth of virtual property. He called the police, but they did nothing because they believe that the goods have no real value.
My Gil is Worth Something!
I like the reaction of Mike Fahey at Kotaku, and I think that his gut is correct in believing that if the government begins recognizing virtual items as having real value, then the next logical step would be to tax them. It seems a bit like the "don't give licenses to illegals" argument in the sense that it is odd for one arm of the government (police saying the virtual goods have worth) to take an opposite stance to another arm of the government (the IRS saying they have no worth). The thing that perplexes me though is that seems well-settled to me that this stuff has value. While it may not have a physical manifestation, there are still people who are willing to buy this stuff - if a WoW gift card came out that only had a sword on it, I bet people would buy it. Virtual goods are commodities. While I agree that the tax implications are mind-boggling, and surely going to be a pain to gamers everywhere, virtual goods will be thought of the way they should be, as valuable property, for better or worse.