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Economies and Virtual Worlds

November 5, 2007 - 0 Comments

Previously, I had written a post that included a tract on virtual economies, and how they were less relevant in serious virtual worlds than in entertainment/game/narrative-driven worlds. Since that point, I’ve had the benefit of some very good counsel from a number of people with well-reasoned arguments why these economies need to continue to exist and thrive. I’d like the use this post to go through some of those reasons and identify which ones are relevant to business application of virtual worlds and which ones are not.Prokofy Neva (of Second Life fame) had a prepared enumerated list of benefits of virtual economies when we spoke last week. Understandably, there is an entire economy in virtual worlds that is focused on land sales and rentals, and the accoutrement that comes with a parcel of land such as houses, furnishings, and so forth. For this economy, the ability for micropayment transactions is critical without the carrying costs of credit cards or paypal. It also allows an individual the ability to enter the environment with no money, and either by working for others or creating value on their own, they are able to accrue resources within the environment that they can, in turn, spend within the environment or repatriate to a common currency.I concur that this is a highly-relevant facet of in-world economies when applied to users entering the environment for the first time that have little to no resources to contribute to the economy. This is less relevant in a business setting where this technology is used more as a ‘how’ you communicate than as a ‘where’.

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