[MUD-Dev] Re: A Query Regarding Economies in a Text Environme nt

Koster Koster
Tue Oct 13 14:03:52 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

> -----Original Message-----
> From: J C Lawrence [mailto:claw at under.engr.sgi.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 1:33 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: A Query Regarding Economies in a Text 
> Environment
> On Tue, 13 Oct 1998 04:12:10 -0500 
> Brandon A Downey<badowney at sprynet.com> wrote:

> > By "meaningful economy", I mean a system wherein some currency
> > (usually gold) serves as an actuall tool of exchange for things of
> > "in-game" value (equipment, skills, social standing, property
> > ownership, etc.) Far too often I've seen the almost inevitable
> > inflationary spiral lead to gold that's good only for being a
> > paperweight (if I just get 3 million gold in my sack, it will be
> > too heavy to steal!).
> Have a search thru the archives for things like LET and barter
> systems and the threads surrounding them.  LET systems never really
> got discussed, but I remain obstinate in bringing them up in
> reference to almost all such threads.  I've also posted extensive
> web links on the area.

In the Dibbell book I recently read, the LambdaMOO "economy" takes up a
chapter. A brief summary:

There was no money. And people could make anything anytime they wanted.
So, well, woo hoo. :)

BUT there was limited disk space to make the stuff you wanted. And you
had to go before a review board to get more.

So a proposal was passed that allowed players to transfer disk quota
amongst themselves. In effect, a sort of currency. Except that (and this
was the pithy statement that caught my eye) in wasn't a true currency
because "the signifier and the signified were the exact same thing."
Whereas a currency is generally speaking, a signifier for something else
with a quantified value, adopted as a convenience.

The classic mud problem would seem to be that there's rarely enough of
quantified value in a mud for the currency to be generally applicable as
a measuring stick. In other words, you've got an infinite supply of most
everything, usually, including the currency itself, so quantifying
values is pretty much impossible. This manifests immediately as runaway
devaluation of whatever your arbitrary currency is.

Dibbell argued elsewhere that mud economies might plain not be possible
(I don't agree with him but his arguments were interesting). I cited a
link to this recently in a post.

> BTW: We really should get Raph's wife in on this (IIRC she's an
> economist by training, tho she's mostly recovered from that now).

I will try once again to get her to de-lurk. :)


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