The current record for a virtual goods sale was set in 2010 by a space station in the game Entropia Universe, which sold for a cool $330,000—a vast amount, yet only the slimmest fragment of a multibillion dollar global trade. It may seem strange, but this makes a good deal of sense when you consider the level of belief, time, and effort now invested in virtual environments—not to mention the intuitive transparency of earning and trading within them when compared to the nightmare complexities of “real” finance. What we don’t have yet, however, is any kind of robust legal or intellectual structure for handling this culture. Consider “playbour” —making your living by playing online games, then selling the fruits of your effort to willing clients. As the author and activist Cory Doctorow explored in his 2010 book For the Win, there’s little official acknowledgement of this shadowy economy, let alone ways of regulating it or offering rights to those involved—beyond the right of the company operating a digital service to pull the plug. This needs to change. Like many distinctions between “real” and “virtual,” classifying goods by their physical status is rapidly becoming less useful than classifying them by the uses they are being put to—and by the networks of belief, obligation, and law that they exist within. With parts of the global economy rapidly sinking below water level, it’s time to admit that we already live in a quasi-virtual world—and that some of our digital creations are proving more durable than even cherished ideas about those places we happen to live.