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Apr 07, 2004



The show's posted and available for online listening now.

Great job Julian and Ted. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover Henry Jenkins' participation as the third expert commentator. What I liked about the combination of these three is the emphasis all of them put, in their own unique ways, on the ties that virtual worlds have with RL and the ways they can transcend the category of "game." The callers chosen for the show were all players/citizens of virtual worlds and in every case illustrated this point with their own experiences. Aside from the disingenuous "whoa back up...there's online prostitution??" comment from Neal Conan (be forewarned, it's literally hard to stop your eyes rolling back in your head when you hear that one) it was a great show. Oh, and I loved hearing from the candidates Mr_President and Ashley Richardson themselves.


wow... nicely done. Ted, I'm impressed with your calmness & cadence. Nicely done. Poor Neal... he was kind of titillated beyond what he expected here, huh? anyway, i thought everyone did great.


Great job all. Sounds like the Professor has spoken in public before.

Nothing groundbreaking for anyone who reads TN, but word is getting out.


All I can say is, theater is one Fine Arts skill that really pays off down the line.


Yes, this was great fun to listen to.
Great job Ted and Julian!

A one thought that impressed me;

Every time I hear descriptions of how real these virtual economies are, I can't help to think how far the whole science of economics has come. The fact that it seems natural that players in MMORPGs would use 'real life' economic principles to create competitive advantages in efficiency, is very exciting to say the least.

This also seems to suggest that not only do these virtual economies have some reality to them, but I think the inverse may be implied; simply, we may find that many of the economic principles that we believe to have value in the 'real world', may have applications we have yet to discover.



Good talk...

"the economies in there kind of tend to inflate for reasons that are kind of hard to figure out"

? Hard to figure out? It's simple to figure out - there is no limit on the amount of cash available within a world. The only limit on how much money you have is the time you're willing to invest in picking it up. Further there is little or no cost of living expense. Inevitably these factors cause character welath to build up with no required release of cash.

Imagine if Wack-a-mole machines distributed money and never ran out - that by itself would destroy an economy. Now imagine if you never had to eat or pay bills.. all you use money for is luxury items and the ability to play Wack-a-mole machines that dispense larger quantities of money.

Seems like a pretty straight-forward path to inflation to me.


Lack of money sinks as a design flaw has received pretty wide visibility, I assume that comment interprets "doesn't make good radio" or "I'd rather not talk about game design". After all, VWs' implications to real world are more interesting than VWs' implications to VW design, or at least more in keeping with the theme of the interview.


Well, OK. I'm imagining a world in which Wack-a-Mole machines distribute the money. I'm also imagining that there is no other source of money. And that the machines distribute money at the rate of about 1 candy bar's worth of purchasing power per hour of play. And that most people can make a better living doing other things. And that people only start paying much attention to the Wack-a-Mole machines when the value of the money they distribute starts to be more than an egg's worth per hour, which only happens once the economy starts growing faster than the money supply. And that the subsequent influx of money into the economy then drives the incentive for wacking moles back down to uninteresting levels until the next time money gets tight.

Does this in itself destroy an economy? John Maynard Keynes thought so, more or less. But he was talking about a slightly different version of the Wack-a-Mole economy known as the gold standard (a/k/a Wack-a-Mine). And he was worried about the *deflationary* effects, which economists generally see as the inherent vice of gold standards.

The loot-drop-as-royal-mint model that most games use to manage money supply is really just another version of the gold standard. If it weren't for balancing issues (the gold sink problems Staarkhand alludes to), it would likely be a deflationary system, rather than an inflationary one. The balancing issues are complicated. And therefore it's a complicated proposition to say why game economies are generally inflationary.


And that the subsequent influx of money into the economy then drives the incentive for wacking moles back down to uninteresting levels until the next time money gets tight.
If it weren't for balancing issues (the gold sink problems Staarkhand alludes to), it would likely be a deflationary system, rather than an inflationary one.

Hmmmm. Do players really stop whacking moles when gold gets plentiful? (What else is there to do besides whack-more-and-bigger-moles?) Isn't it really: the in-game markets are inflationary (in terms of in-game currency); whereas the external valuation (ebay) is deflationary ("too much stuff accumulated in the game")?

Argh, any data here?


I'm still intrigued by Neil Conan's description of all involved as "young, slim & beautiful."

That alone could provoke a rush of newbies...



You are correct that it was probably too complex for that radio program.

Except that even in a gold-standard economy there is only so much money to go around. As money "pools" in one place or person it dries up elsewhere. This isn't so in MMORPG's. MMORPG economies are like using tree leaves as money.

Sure, eventually the number leaves you can pull of a tree (or moles you can wack) in an hour will equal the cost of a candy bar.... but if you could have gotten $0.50 an hour playing wack=a-mole 100 years ago you'd have been rich. While this proves that real world economies aren't any better than game economies, that is a century of difference... game economies inflate in a matter of a couple years.

Of course this ignore real world effects like international trade and the ripple effects of international economics on local which is a factor not seen in game worlds.

Games could create complex systems that limit the amount of money in the environment at any one time but that's not truly necessary I think. Just a more effective method of removing money from the economy than most current games provide(item degredation, travel expenses, health maintinence, etc)... or, more simply, a removal of the ability for players to trade items with each other.


Ung, the problem with time/money sinks is the fact they usually aren't fun for the player. They are great for the economy, but if the player realizes that these money sinks aren't worth it, they stop wacking the mole.

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