Another CHI 2008 paper I did was one covering the social impact of virtual currency in China. “Human-Currency Interaction”: Learning from Virtual Currency Use in China by Yang Wang and Scott D. Mainwaring did a lot to pull back the curtain on virtual currencies in China.
By and large the researchers found a lot of the "realness" of the currencies are attributed by younger people and young professionals. In some cases the virtual worlds dictate a real-world face-to-face encounter, one case involving a transfer in person in an Internet cafe and a family member elsewhere making the transfer. This kind of action is, in part, no so suprising of a psychological case, but the real-world applications of this knowledge are stunning.
See the previous CHI 2008 post for the comments.