The BBC has a report on a man who has gone into business to sell virtual goods that exist only in the Internet gaming community of Ultima Online.

As the sneering became deafening, this Slashdot comment rose above the whine to make a telling point:

You could call this social criticism
(Score:5, Funny)
by panurge (573432) on Tuesday August 12, @07:41AM (#6673237)
What are the established churches but ways of making real money out of virtual worlds? The clergy get paid for exploring, reporting on, and handling virtual goods in, a spiritual realm that is actually invisible and whose existence is unproven. At least with online games, the players can experience the virtual environment.
I guess you could say the same thing about much of commercial law, the stock market,and insurance. And there is more money in all these things than in being a real producer or creator.