Economy and the Formation of Virtual Societies


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.


podcastIcon1.gif Edward Castronova Gold From Thin Air: The Economy of Virtual Worlds 00:27:07, 12.4 mb, Oct 31st, 2005

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

technorati1.jpg Technorati Metaverse, Technorati the Podlink


2 Responses to “Economy and the Formation of Virtual Societies”

  1. Robert Says:

    I first understood this idea a while ago when I heard that some lady had quit her day job and was working full time making hair for Second Life (I think she owns/is-part-of slboutique dot com). It’s neat to think about when these worlds become full-grown, but what about when they become ubiquitous? Think of the ability to punish someone by taking away their right to overlay or cross-connect the real-world with a virtual world(s)?

  2. Muli Koppel Says:

    Hi Robert,
    In my alter-blog, as well as in a blog titled “On Methods and Black Squares” which I co-author, I’m discussing the concept of Reality in relation to the Internet. Also, my next post here at technopod will touch these issues.

    I heard a great sentence last night which I think sum it all: the only real thing is our relationships with other humans. All the rest is virtual.

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