Teen pays siblings' college fees by selling virtual weapons

Back when I was in high school, I saved money by making sandwiches at my family's deli after school. Times have changed. Now, families are funding college educations through virtual worlds on the Internet. Entropia Universe, a creation of Swedish company MindArk, has nearly 500,000 users only three years after launching.

Click here to Play

Video: Making money on planet Calypso
David Simmonds, director of business development at MindArk, joins CNET News.com's Neha Tiwari via Webcam to discuss the virtual world "Entropia Universe."

Mike Everest, a home-schooled high school senior from Durango, Colo., has put two of his siblings through college by selling virtual goods for real dollars on Entropia. And he's not the only one involved. His mother also plays the game. Along with his mother, Everest, better-known within the virtual game as Ogulak Da Basher on the planet Calypso, has raked in more than $35,000. Of that profit, $12,000 will be used to help his two siblings attend college. When asked if he suggested this to other high schoolers looking to make a buck, he said, "Not really, unless they can be devoted to it. It's really hard in the beginning to play the game."

Ogulak Da Basher, spends an average of three hours a day on Entropia. "Some days I don't get on at all. But other days I can spend half of the day playing in Entropia." Since he is home schooled, he is allowed this freedom. Moreover, it can be argued that he learns some lessons from the universe. Within Entropia, Everest is a captain in the Entropian hunting society, "ck Coat Killers." There, he is a hunter/miner who constructs weapons and sells them to make a profit. Though this is not your traditional business model, it teaches a real lesson about costs and demands.

Now that the two older Everest children are set up in college, Mike plans to save for his own college education--"and maybe a car," he says with a laugh. When asked if he will remain active in online worlds in the coming 10 years, Everest says he is not going anywhere, but also knows what a commitment virtual worlds can be. "It depends on how busy I am. But I think I will, because I've made friends all over the world. I couldn't see myself ever leaving it."

Featured Video