Basically, this is about some emergent gameplay that we in Goonswarm (it's always Goonswarm) are running right now. It requires a touch of background for the non-Eve player, but is fairly easily comprehensible to the non-Eve constituency. There are three basic things to understand:
1- In Eve, "POS Towers" (essentially small space stations) are at the core of much manufacturing, being used to react various compounds to make the building blocks of advanced construction. Of the four Eve races' towers, by far the most efficient for this task are Gallente. Gallente towers are thus used almost exclusively for high-end compound reactions. Without the results of these reactions - many essential items from interdictors to jump freighters - simply cannot be built.
2 - Gallente towers use a specific type of ice which is predominately mined in Gallente empire space (it spawns in a few other places but is economically unrewarding to mine there until prices become vastly higher). By filtering on various criteria, we were able to determine that only seventeen of all of Eve's thousands of systems were suitable for the methods used to mine almost all Gallente ice (automated botting by large numbers of ice-mining accounts). I'll spare you the details of what those criteria were unless you are particularly interested.
3 - The automated bots use ships that themselves require at least thirty or so hours of mining to pay for their own capital investment, when fitted. Ironically, they rely on CCP's own mechanics for protection: if you shoot them in empire space then "Concord" (an external, invincible force of NPCs: essentially town guards) will spawn very quickly and destroy you. However, it is possible to fit certain ships so as to deal sufficient damage sufficiently rapidly to destroy one or more miners before Concord arrive. For obvious and predictably tasteless Goonswarm-cultural reasons this is known as Jihading.
We have therefore announced and begun a campaign aimed at preventing anyone mining for Gallente ice in Empire space. Since we have thousands of members, we have proved able to shut ice-mining operations down almost entirely.
As someone working for an oil- and energy-market research company I've been watching the related price shock, market hysteria, speculation and rumour-fed manipulation with delight and a strong sense of déjà vu. One post I made in the Goonswarm alliance director forums before we started kinda sums it up in formal terms:
"What [a fellow director] is saying is that while there is a limited degree of elasticity in supply, short- and medium-term spare capacity is inadequate to replace any interruption of current productive capacity, demand is extremely inelastic in the short term, bunkers are inadequate for any prolonged shortage and the cost of removing dependence is high both in immediate terms and in the context of ongoing costs. The market is therefore extremely vulnerable to price shock."
And there aren't many MMOs you can say that about.
No there aren't! But now if someone asks me whether an important policy and regulatory issue can be replicated in a virtual world, I can say that some players replicated energy market manipulation just for kicks.