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Virtual Consumerism: Case Habbo Hotel

TitleVirtual Consumerism: Case Habbo Hotel
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLehdonvirta, V., Wilska T-A., & Johnson M.
JournalInformation, Communication & Society
Keywordscommodification, consumer behaviour, global culture industry, massively-multiplayer online game (MMO), real-money trading (RMT), virtual property

Selling virtual items for real money is increasingly being used as a revenue model in games and other online services. To some parents and authorities, this has been a shock: previously innocuous ‘consumption games’ suddenly seem to be enticing players into giving away their money for nothing. In this article, we examine the phenomenon from a sociological perspective, aiming to understand how some media representations come to be perceived as ‘virtual commodities’, what motivations individuals have for spending money on these commodities, and how the resulting ‘virtual consumerism’ relates to consumer culture at large. The discussion is based on a
study of everyday practices and culture in Habbo Hotel, a popular massively-multiuser online environment permeated with virtual items. Our results suggest that virtual commodities can act in essentially the same social roles as material goods, leading us to ask whether ecologically sustainable virtual consumption could be a substitute to material consumerism in the future.

Lehdonvirta et al 2009 Virtual Consumerism.pdf444.3 KB