Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Virtual Goods Offer An Alternative To Material Consumption As Social Lives Move To Online Networks

Date:
November 10, 2009
Source:
Helsinki University of Technology
Summary:
Millions of people are spending real money on virtual clothes in online hangouts, digital items in multiplayer games and presents for their friends in social networking sites. This digitalisation of consumption is an inherent consequence of the increasing involvement of communication technology in everyday social activities, says one researcher.

Millions of people are spending real money on virtual clothes in online hangouts, digital items in multiplayer games and presents for their friends in social networking sites. This digitalisation of consumption is an inherent consequence of the increasing involvement of communication technology in everyday social activities, says Helsinki Insititute for Information Technology HIIT Researcher Vili Lehdonvirta. Lehdonvirta's thesis "Virtual Consumption" will be examined on 30 October at Turku School of Economics, Finland.

"You don't have to be an Internet addict or live in an online community to appreciate virtual goods. Today, around 10 percent of users in a typical online service are likely to be spending money on microtransactions, such as virtual items and gifts. Much of this spending relates to social activities involving friends and family," says Lehdonvirta.

In public discourse, spending real money on virtual goods is frequently dismissed as an irrational fad or as a result of abusive marketing. But Lehdonvirta's thesis suggests that the fundamental drivers of virtual consumption are found in individuals' social and hedonic motivations.

"People buy virtual goods for the same reasons as they buy material goods. In online spaces, virtual goods can function as markers of status, elements of identity and means towards ends in the same way as material consumer goods do in similarly contrived physical spaces," says Lehdonvirta.

In his doctoral thesis, Lehdonvirta also considers the economic and ecological consequences of the digitalisation of consumption. According to Lehdonvirta, the present economic downturn may turn out to be a boost to virtual consumption, because consumers spend more time at home and favour small purchases over large ones. The ecological sustainability of virtual consumption depends on whether it continues to spur additional computer hardware purchases or whether it substitutes material consumption by providing an alternative use for money.

"From a macroeconomic perspective, it does not matter what consumers buy, as long as they keep on spending. Virtual consumption might offer an ecological way out of this consumer society's dilemma," says Lehdonvirta.

According to Lehdonvirta's thesis, people in East Asian countries such as Korea, China and Japan have been quicker to adopt virtual consumption styles.

"What is considered as an appropriate way to spend your time and money varies between cultures and changes over time. Perhaps in three years' time, virtual consumption is considered rational in the West, and the rationality of filling your house with expensive objects starts to be questioned," ponders Lehdonvirta.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helsinki University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Helsinki University of Technology. "Virtual Goods Offer An Alternative To Material Consumption As Social Lives Move To Online Networks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029161216.htm>.
Helsinki University of Technology. (2009, November 10). Virtual Goods Offer An Alternative To Material Consumption As Social Lives Move To Online Networks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029161216.htm
Helsinki University of Technology. "Virtual Goods Offer An Alternative To Material Consumption As Social Lives Move To Online Networks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029161216.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins