When the Virtual Becomes the Real

Julian Dibbell's main source of income comes from the buying and selling of 1's and 0's.

Dibbell is a trafficker -- in the gold pieces, suits of armor, blades and other artifacts beloved by the often obsessive players of Ultima Online, many of whom wouldn't blink at paying $600 for magic gloves. But Dibbell's going to have to sell a whole lot of them if he's going to meet his goal, as Tax Day is just around the corner. (Although April 15 is the day tax returns and estimated taxes are due -- not a date through which the IRS normally requires taxpayers to report their income -- Dibbell is treating it as his cutoff date for earning most of his money from the sale of virtual goods.)

"I'm at the last month, and you know, I've got a shot, I think," he says. "I need to make another $3,600 in profit in three weeks. Twelve hundred bucks a week. We'll see."


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