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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Online RPGs as an economy?

I was never really interested in MMORPGs until a friend let me try Guild Wars. It's so much fun! (Check out the screenshots of "Maid Mirawyn". Mirawyn loves yaks, and especially enjoys visiting Yak's Bend.) My husband also got me to try Diablo II (which neither of us ever thought would happen), and it's fun, too. But I still can't understand the EverCrack and WarCrack addictions! (That's "EverQuest" and "World of Warcraft" to the normals. If you ever have an addicted friend, you'll understand the nicknames.)

EverQuest players, in particular, are infamous for the incredible amounts of money they will pay for in-game stuff. High level characters or rare items can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That's real money, mind you, not in-game money! And players have to pay a monthly fee (neither of my games has a fee), as well as buying the game and expansions. (The games require a pretty fast computer with lots of memory, and high speed access, too. I have the computer and broadband anyway, but you get the idea...)

Anyway, one economist-gamer by the name of Edward Castronova wrote a scholarly paper on virtual economies, primarily EverQuest and Ultima Online. He calculated how much a platinum piece is worth in real-world dollars, as well as how much wealth is created every day. By his reckoning, the world of EverQuest is the seventy-seventh richest country in the world, based on the real-world value of its "virtual property." Wow!

If you're looking for a career and are good with video games, there are people who make a living aquiring and selling that virtual property! How do you list that job on a resume?