Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Virtual Recession

I've been thinking again about economies of virtual worlds. One MMO game I've played for awhile, Kingdom of Loathing, has a market, but because the game is too simple (for our purposes), it's not that interesting - the most experienced players typically play in a mode where they can't access the market more than once a week or so (between beatings of the game), and the game is not long/deep enough for most classes of items to be difficult to acquire. Another game I play, DOFUS, is much more interesting - there are more objects that are consumed for various purposes (and thus must be bought again...) and the game is much longer. There are also professions (e.g. farmer or miner), some of which involve gathering raw materials to make objects (typically by members of other professions, like bakers and hammer-smiths). The game is also much longer, is constantly active (the developers of the game are French, and so English, Portugese, Spanish, and French seem to be the most common languages (although I've heard plenty of others). The language communities interact mainly in the markets, and the population of the game differs depending on daytime at various parts of the world. Objects prices exhibit a strange rolling behaviour as, say, sellers of various types of potions in a given language community differ in rarity and surplus/rarity from one time interacts with the next. I sometimes wonder, seeing those waves, how similar it is to things typically observed/managed with modern macroeconomic theory. Would, for example, recession happen? Also, how does the fact that people don't have any completely nonelastic needs (food, shelter) in the game change things? If we're trying to "understand the big picture", how much would it change real world economics if access to basic food/shelter/care were universal? Are the rules these virtual economies play very similar to those of real economies?

I was all excited about teaching coworkers the fundamentals of SQL today and it turns out they wanted to learn other things instead. :(


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