Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Making Money

A few months ago I bought a book called "Making Money in Second Life" (or something like that) -- this is basically part of my general interest in economics combined with a particular interest in how to destroy/disrupt economies (I particularly love when people buy something cheap in one area of the game and sell them for 10-300 times the purchase price, and I can destroy their business by following them around telling their would-be customers, who are generally new folk, where to get things at a more affordable price). I am particularly interested in reversing the effects of marketing/advertising and disrupting corporations, based on the premise that although I would prefer something much more like a command economy, petit bourgeois capitalism is preferable to corporate capitalism. After a number of experiments in these games, I came to wonder - in most online games that have their own economy, the currency system is in-place and monitored by the developer/publisher, with various amounts of controls to punish predatory/fraudulent activities (although not generally as many as in real-life western economies). (sidenote: I am pleased to see that the US government is moving towards taxation of earnings in some virtual economies - as some people strive to make a living off of being an online merchants, mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that they pay their share for maintenance of RL societal institutions. I am as of yet unsure whether and how the state should provide traditional protections in these markets though) What I am wondering is if any online worlds provide a means to simulate the messy period as systems of currency and economies are born. Doing this would be very different from what we see now in online games, where currency (understand that one of the traditional understandings of money is "representation of value", another is "representation of societal favour/privilege", the difference between the two is interesting but worth exploring some other time) is initially created either as a stipend (Second Life), in response to in-game quests (many RPGs), or by defeating NPC "monsters" that happen to carry money on them. It's interesting when steps are taken to adjust how "real" an economy is - either limiting or encouraging transferrability of units of value to real-life currency, or banning of many types of schemes that were long ago banned in most RL economies (ponzi schemes, among other things, keep popping up). I would love to see an RPG that made it possible for currency systems and regulatory environments for them to be created online - just as reading a wide variety of philosophy is helpful in providing fertile grounds for ones own Weltanschauung, the world may benefit to see other possibilities in economes (even as online economies are by nature a bit disconnected from real life in that the necessities of life for people generally do not need to be provided for).

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