[Mud-Dev] Money supply in game economies (formerly Brokeneconomies)

geoffrey at yorku.ca geoffrey at yorku.ca
Thu Apr 5 02:51:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Matt wrote:

>  a) If anyone has any ideas on how to make loans in a virtual world
>  feasible? It has to be extremely difficult to defraud the banks (or
>  interest rates will skyrocket to the point where there's no
>  incentive to borrow).

It may be a naive standpoint, but doesn't the old rule of 'provide the
tools, they'll do the rest' apply here?  I.e., the players have the
money, and they will, and do, extend loans - although I'm sure they
operate more as loan sharks than actual banks.

If you mean running a central bank that governs interest rates
et. al., wouldn't the most effective means of accounting for all of
the difficulties involved be to guide its evolution over a significant
period of time, as opposed to implementing it in a single patch?
I.e., enact policy as difficulties arise, and as consensual goals

Or am I misinterpreting your aim?

>  b) Has anyone implemented systems in their worlds that allow
>  players to act truly entrepreneurially?

What do you mean by 'truly'?

The guilds who sell protection are entrepreneurs.

The woman who does interior design in UO is an entrepreneur.

Even the players who used the bow command in UO to roleplay
prostitutes are entrepreneurs.

But, since I know you know all this already, I think I'm missing the
point of your question...

>  I'm sure someone else can come up with a better list of
>  requirements for this, but I'd think that it would at least need:

>    1. Multiply your efforts by employing (almost certainly) NPC
>    workers.

Is there a reason it has to be NPCs?  Wouldn't the shop keepers that
people could position in front of their tents in UO count towards

>    2. A wide range (hopefully open-ended, but I know in my case at
>    least, that's beyond what I'm going to aim for) of interdependent
>    businesses that can be formed and grown, or rather, a wide range
>    of activities that a business may engage in.

A key part of entrepreneurialism is the spark of creativity and
inventiveness.  I think a predetermined selection of possible
entrepreneurial ventures would play directly against the very nature
of the stated goal.

Again, I think a laissez faire approach (with the proper amount of
pushing in the right directions) would work best - let imagination run
its course...

>    3. A competitive environment, in which the incentive to do well
>    is that you will make more money.

I think MUDs have this already - although I'd substitute 'wealth' for

>    4. Game systems supporting the formation and funding of
>    independent entities (ie a corporate format).

This functionality would definitely need to be in place - although I
know of several MMORPGs in development who are adding this kind of
'strategic' capability into their guild admin interfaces.

>    5. Strong in-game legal systems with codified property, business,
>    and contract law.

IMHO, points #4 and #5 are the only critera that would have to be hard
coded and 'designed'.  #5 especially - as, arguably, only this kind of
legal framework can provide would be entrepreneurs with the capacity
to trust that their actions, and the fruits of their actions, will be
honoured and protected.  Thus providing the incentive to out new

Actually, I would argue that only points 4 and 5 are necessary to
foster entrepreneurialism from the POV of the designers.  The rest the
players will handle on their own...

> And then I think that the following would be nice, though not
> strictly necessary:

>  1. The ability to manage risk. This might be a little too
>  sophisticated, but I just think it'd be neat if I could own a
>  series of, say, lemon tree farms, and reduce my exposure to
>  weather-related risk by buying options on tree-warming-equipment
>  manufacturers, or sell futures to lock in a price now.

>  2. Financial markets supporting, at the least, bonds and common
>  stocks, so that companies can raise money from the general public,
>  and because it'd be neat to try and make a living as a trader.

Again, rather than trying to implement the model currently in
existence in the rw, I think a more successful approach would be to
plant the seeds that lead, over time, to this kind of system emerging
from the myriad of individual actions taken by your players.

I realize you're a critic of modeling too heavily upon the real world,
but I think tracing the history of existing financial structures, and
setting the process in motion from the beginning would be the most
effective way of ensuring that whatever financial emerged met the
needs of your world.  This method would also help significantly with
the inevitable bugs that would occur, as you'd be able to discover
them slowly over time - working towards their resolution could even
become part of the gaming experience.

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