Hello! Two sort of related things:
1) I'll be speaking with Neal Stephenson this evening at the University of Washington about his new book, REAMDE, focusing on the legal dimensions of gold farming and virtual property. The available seats seem to be booked at this point, but there's standing room -- more about that here.
On page 35 of REAMDE, Stephenson describes the way that Richard Forthrast, the book's protaganist (well, the main protaganist) hit upon the idea that made him rich -- a MMORPG that encourages gold farming and is premised on a stable virtual currency:
It didn’t take a huge amount of acumen, then, to understand that the value of virtual gold in the game world could be made stable in a directly analogous way: namely, by forcing players to expend a certain amount of time and effort to extract a certain amount of virtual gold (or silver, or diamonds, or various other mythical and magical elements and gems that the Creatives would later add to the game world).
Which sounds suspiciously like Bitcoin, no?
2) And speaking of Bitcoin and its intersection with virtual economies, earlier this month, Mark Jansen pinged Ted and I about his M.A. Thesis, recently submitted at Utrecht University. It is embedded below and it offers a whirlwind tour of Bitcoin, goldfarming, currency systems, cyberlibertarianism, etc. Very much of a piece with the themes of Stephenson's REAMDE and a nice intro to the issues.
Update: Worth reading from Technollama -- it seems like there's a very large amount of concentrated wealth in the Bitcoin economy.Bitcoin the Political Virtual of an Intangible Material Currency
Comments on REAMDE and a thesis:
Concerning the concentration of wealth within Bitcoin: the distribution is concentrated, showing a long tail distribution (power law): http://www.markajansen.nl/index.php/bitcoin/graph-distribution-of-top-96-bitcoin-address-volume/
Posted Oct 19, 2012 8:12:18 AM | link
Please ask Stephenson what MMOs he played and what research he did! :) I have been in multiple design convos around how realistic the REAMDE game design is.
Posted Oct 19, 2012 4:00:34 PM | link
Raph -- primarily WoW (he used to play D&D, plays Halo and other FPS, but I think WoW was the only MMORPG he played seriously for REAMDE). He got to level 72 as a Dwarf Warrior, but apparently didn't do much serious raiding.
Apparently, Bitcoin was *not* on his radar when he came up with the economic model for T'Rain -- he said that the idea of modeling a virtual currency off a scarce natural resource, though, was "pretty obvious."
Posted Oct 19, 2012 4:10:30 PM | link
This looks like an excellent event, hope you had lots of fun.
I wonder if Stephenson has seen the more realistic mountain ranges in Pandaria :)
Posted Oct 20, 2012 3:07:56 PM | link