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Cool Virtual Gifts that Cost Real Cash

You can’t unwrap them, return them or even re-gift them. In fact, beyond a bunch of 0s and 1s on a server somewhere, they don’t exist at all. And yet, virtual gifts are doing a roaring trade online as surfers and social networkers show just what their contacts mean to them by buying them… well, nothing.

Here are some of the coolest virtual gifts that you can buy online.

A Hole in The Ground… in Zimbabwe
Some of the best virtual gifts online are in Second Life. That’s mostly because a lot of them aren’t just virtual.

Great Gifts, for example, lets Second Lifers be extremely generous… with someone else’s gift. They let you present another Second Lifer with a certificate showing that you’ve handed over their present to someone else.

The choices are as broad and charitable as you might imagine and range from a meal for 70 Cambodian children and a llama for a family in Bolivia to… wait for it… a borehole in Sunzukwi, Zimbabwe. That’s £5,761 — around $11,464 — to tell someone who doesn’t exist that you’ve bought them a hole that neither of you will ever see.

Does it get cooler than that?

A Bottle of Booze

It’s not just right-on, save-the-world types who can hand out expensive virtual gifts in cyberspace that can also have a knock-on effect offline though. Starfruit, for example, lets Second Lifers buy chocolate, flowers, wine or jewelry and present them in-world.

The recipient can then enter their real address and swap the digitized stuff for something they can actually eat, smell, drink or wear.

We’ll take the drink.

A Second Life Amazon Gift Certificate
Unless of course, someone is handing out Amazon gift certificates.

Instructables.com has a very simple guide that explains how to buy an Amazon gift certificate and hand it to someone in a virtual world. All you have to do is swipe the image and paste it up online.

So that’s a virtual coupon to a store that doesn’t actually exist given by a virtual person to another virtual person in an unreal environment.

When the order doesn’t actually arrive, don’t be surprised.

Facebook’s Flying Saucer

Okay… you’re right, it’s not that cool. But then what did you expect for a dollar, a Dreamliner? Within the first few months of letting its users send each other virtual gifts at a dollar a time, Facebook racked up an impressive $24 million worth of sales. Considering that the gifts were designed by Susan Kare (who created the original Macintosh icons), that doesn’t sound too surprising… until you see them.

They’re just little graphics that look like they were swiped from a kid’s sticker album.

In fact, some of the best gifts on Facebook are free. Growing Gifts, for example, lets users send each other a virtual pot with a seed which starts sprouting after four days.

Imelda Marcos fans and other fetishists can have fun swapping shoes in the Shoes Galore store

And best of all, Friends For Sale lets you swap your pals for cash — but only virtual cash unfortunately.

Still, judging from the gifts you can buy your pals from the multi-billion dollar networking site’s own gift apps, letting someone else buy your friends might be the best bargain.

A Donna Karan Crystal Dress

We think this is probably cool, but frankly we haven’t a clue. Girls seem to like dressing up their dolls so if you have a 14-year old niece who can’t decide whether she likes playing with Barbie or binary, you can buy her a Stardoll gift certificate that will put her avator in the heights of fashion.

That is Donna Karan, right?

A Pair of Handcuffs
This is exactly the sort of gift you really do want to keep virtual. Utherverse tries to be a competitor to Second Life, but one in which life seems to revolve entirely around sex — complete with Karma Sutra-inspired animations.

Romantic types can load up on virtual champagne, chocolates and roses but if you’re going to hang out in the Internet’s virtual red light district you may as well be generous with the toys.

[tags] virtual gifts [/tags]

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