The real economy is mired in recession, but on sites like Second Life, the virtual economy's booming. Thanks to opportunities for entrepreneurs in everything from hats to land, user-to-user transactions totaled to over $567 million in real dollars last year. "The barriers to entry are really, really low for an enterprise to get started in Second Life," says a University of California expert on virtual worlds. "You don't need a factory. You don't have a lot of expenses."
The Second Life economy mirrors the real one: Most users make small profits selling a few creative products, like clothing, clocks, posters and even weather. Some have turned virtual entrepreneurship into a full-time job, mainly through virtual real estate. "I make a lot more money doing this than working at Circuit City, that's for sure," Ray Williams, a former employee of the electronics chain and a virtual-real-estate millionaire, tells the Washington Post.
(Read more Second Life stories.)