[MUD-Dev] Identity and Economies [was RE: Money supply in game economies (formerly Broken eco nomies) ]

Joe Andrieu joe at andrieu.net
Fri Apr 6 09:31:31 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> J C Lawrence
> Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 11:43 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [Mud-Dev] Money supply in game economies (formerly Broken
> eco nomies)

> However, with the hoped-for asymmetric setup (you can derive humans
> but you can't derive actions etc) the social effects in VR are still
> not trivial.  Identity is only partially singular, and more
> particularly, it is not singular in the VR important ways.  There
> remains no way to determine that two characters necessarily derive
> from the same human without that human's consent (think
> non-reversable hashes ala Unix crypt() or MD5), so you still don't
> really know who, in a human sense, which really means in a sense of
> singular identity, who is doing what.  Without some level of
> complicity from Bubba, you can't prove that Bernie and Boffo are
> actually two characters which are both played by Bubba.  Ergo, the
> definitions of trust, and of risks and veracity analysis become
> hopeless complex and subjective ("But his typing looked so
> trustworthy!  He spelled well!", "Of course Bernie isn't Boffo,
> they're such totally different people, and anyways, I'd know if
> someone was trying to trick me like that!").

Actually, for commercial games, there is a fairly straightforward way
to ascertain identity, as each major game out there has a credit card
on file which identifies the person pretty clearly.  Even with
multiple cards, it's pretty solid.

Sure, there are ways to biff the system (a card with someone else's
name on it), but the system has the benefit of not requiring serious
encryption and it'll be good enough most of the time. There are also
pretty good laws and trigger-happy corporations fighting credit
fraud--much better support than you'd get with some new digital
signature or biometric regime.

In response to Mihaly's post, it's not too hard to use the credit card
for accountability.  It's used all the time as a means for
accountability in the real world.  When I rent a car (or a snowboard
or whatever) in RL, I give my credit card as a means of
accountability. If I break it or steal it or lose it, I'm charged for
it.  It's not that far of a stretch to allow loans or rentals in VR
which are backed up by the credit of the credit card (and whose line
of credit is related to the credit available on the card).  And that
can work with arbitrary transfer costs, i.e., without floating
conversion of currencies from dollars to "gold pieces" or whatever you
have. If the loan isn't paid back, a $5 or $50 or $100 fee is imposed
as pre-agreed in the contract for the loan. Of course, this will
create a way to effectively buy in-game currency for cash, but doesn't
necessarily provide a way to get back out.

And of course, it works nicely if your currency is fully convertible

Of course, the "hoped-for" asymmetry, which you champion JC, is pretty
much a pipe dream if you use the traditional financial networks to
create accountability. There's simply too much money and government
interest in keeping anonymous digital cash from becoming a reality.
Assume that your transactions are traceable. Because unless you are
good enough at digital subterfuge to be a respected hacker, your
transactions are an open book for those inside the system.

And given that assumption, it's not that hard to conceive of ways to
hold players of virtual characters accountable for their characters


Joe Andrieu
Realtime Drama

joe at andrieu.net
+1 (626) 395-1011

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