Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finance Your Movie In The Game

I know a lot of people who spent years of their life pitching their grand film project to studios to no avail. I also know many who went to prominent film schools in the hopes that they would work their way through the system into making their own movie. Unfortunately, none of them has yet to actually make anything. It's a sad fact, and many are unaware, that the chances of an independent or outsider getting a film into the studio system, through production and into distribution are slim to none.

With the advent of digital film making technology, there are many who have chosen to go the independent film route, creating their own film projects out of pocket or with small private investment. Too many would be creators, though, have grand dreams. They desire to make huge films that will cost a lot of money no matter how you look at it. So how does one go about getting a larger project financed?

We all know that the internet has, in the past, been put to great use to gain marketing buzz for a movie or even, in some cases, get a movie financed, but with our convergence mentality, where movies, video games and the internet seem to blend together more and more everyday, there is one avenue to financing an independent film that I am surprised many seem to overlook. That avenue lies in the economy of online multiplayer games.

Ailin Graef is a player in the massive multiplayer online experience Second Life. She started nearly three years ago with a mere account and, in that time, has used her skills as a designer to create a considerable amount of money. In that online 3D world she owns 36 square miles of virtual property, which a player can build houses on and rent to other players. She also owns virtual shopping malls and numerous in-game brands. All this amounts to holdings worth million in real world money!

The currency in online game worlds has been quickly gaining value against the real world dollar, just like comparing dollars to yen. A lot of this began years ago in one of the first popular online games known as Everquest. People were selling high level characters they created, magical items and even stashes of in-game gold for thousands of dollars in real money on Ebay. According to IGPlace.com, a piece of gold, in the massively popular World of Warcraft game, is worth 18 cents. Players will actually camp in a spot where they know the greatest monsters appear. They kill the monster, get its treasure, sell it for a large amount of in-game gold and then sell the gold for real world money. They do this all day just like having a job. Economist Edward Castronova discovered that Everquest players earned more than per hour in real world value just by playing the game.

The key for the independent film makers is that there are many roads to "cash out" of these online experiences and pocket the money. Imagine playing a multiplayer game all day and developing a high level character with stashes of gold and tons of magical items worth thousands of dollars in the real world! What could be more fun than killing orcs and dragons as a way to raise the money you need to get your independent film project done?

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