I think this might just be scruples...but a question on digital goods


#1

So, I use Steam. Steam has several features that allow you to collect virtual goods on your accounts, like gun skins for the game Counter-Strike or trading cards that can be traded with others.

You can collect this stuff, but you can also sell these digital trinkets on a sort of market built into the Steam client. If you’re clever and patient, you can make quite a bit of money–or rather, online credit, since this money can’t be used outside of Steam. Now, I’ve been using this feature extensively for a long time. You pick up these trinkets pretty passively when playing games, so its not like it requires work. They hold no value for me, and I’d rather sell them for online credit to buy new games.

I’d give the money to the poor, but you can’t translate this online credit to real money without taking some risky actions–which means selling the goods to someone else through Paypal, which I believe is against the Steam TOS anyways. So, I’d been using the credit to buy games without spending any of my “real” money on them. (I was thinking of buying some Christmas presents for my friends as well.)

However, I stopped the practice. It feels like dirty money, since I basically earned it for playing video games, and earned it from people too eager to throw their money away on goods of no actual value.

Was I actually sinning when I sold digital goods? My cursory glance at the catechism suggests no, but I consider myself yet a toddler when it comes to the faith. I’d like to hear the opinion of someone more informed in the faith.


#2

In my personal opinion (and you ought only take it for that), you are appropriately thinking about **(1)**the immorality of gaining something for nothing by something other than grace. Additionally, (2) you understand the immorality of contributing to someone’s wastefulness. However, I think you have misapplied that moral principles to this little scenario.

(1) I tend to think video games can be moral to play in moderation. Often times there is a byproduct you get from playing them. It has a value, namely in the amount of your time spent (which is a true thing of value, unless you want to claim a person’s time is worthless ;)). So selling it on Steam is not actually selling something worthless for something of value. Take, for example, one taking notes on a subject of study in their free time instead of gaming. In that case they may produce greater or lesser notes depending on their time spent on the subject. Someone buying these notes would be buying something of value, even if you enjoyed the studying, and the subject was a trivial one.

(2) It also follows that if the thing is of some value (as stated above), someone who pays for it is not buying something worthless. So offering it to them is not necessarily wrong.

Anyhow, selling these things and playing games could be wrong given certain circumstances. However, the important point is that it does not appear wrong in itself. Be careful about wasting your life and will on games, but a moderate and healthy amount of recreation and limited participating in this tiny micro-market is not something to feel guilty. Also be careful about the immoral practice of spending too much time morally analyzing little things and missing focus on the bigger issues in life.

That’s my 2 cents anyhow.


#3

Its not wrong to buy digital goods you can afford, why would it be wrong to sell digital goods? The fact someone is willing to buy something means it has an actual value. There are plenty of tangible collectibles (used stamps) that have little in the way of actual usefulness, would you feel bad for selling them to a collect for money?

I don’t understand how earning money by playing a game some how makes it dirty? I mean, is it wrong for professional athletes to earn money playing their game? Or even professional Starcraft II players?


#4

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