Philip K. Dick explained once how he became a passionate writer of a genre perceived as “not serious”:
“I became interested in writing stf [scientifiction] when I saw it emerge from the ray gun stage into studies of man in various types and complexities of society”, Introducing the Author (1953).
Online multi-players games (MMORPGs) and Virtual Worlds (Metaverses), such as Second Life, bear great resemblance to the remote galactic colonies depicted by many sci-fi dreamers. And just like early stage sci-fi, MMORPGs needed a certain setup time to overcome the ray gun stage and become what they are today – a viable alternative to our existing world.
Philip Rosedale Linden, CEO, Second Life: “I’m not building a game; I’m building a new country.” (ref.2)
One prominent trait of any society/country is the existence of economic processes and regulations. Edward Castronova describes in a fascinating lecture the developing economies inside those virtual worlds and their diffusion into our current world (through eBay for instance).
As these virtual worlds are young, most of the economic structure is created in a trial-and-error fashion. Many interesting details about these trials in emerging economies can be found in the Wikipedia article dedicated to Second Life under the “Economy” section, as well as in the articles mentioned in the References hereafter.
Original Podlink: The Economy of Virtual Worlds
Virtual World, Real Money, BusinessWeek
Fun in Following the Money, Wired News
Terra Nova, A weblog about virtual worlds