[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Chris Schofield cscho at worldnet.att.net
Fri May 23 11:07:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


From: Dave Rickey

> In spite of centuries of work, a continuing effort in the public,
> private, and academic arenas, the "dismal science" is going
> nowhere, and has been for a long time.  I'm going to make a bold
> statement: It is not only worthwhile for economists to study
> online game economies, but there are Nobel prizes waiting for the
> ones that figure them out.

I am no economist, but it seems we're talking about experimental
versus theoretical economics here.  As an undergraduate (years ago),
I supplemented my budget by participating in economics experiments.
Basically, experimental economists were trying to test economic
theory through controlled experiments.  One thing they found was
that the monetary rewards for doing well had to be significant or
else the participants didn't act "rationally".  If the compensation
was small, they tended to take very risky actions.  On the other
hand, if the compensation was significant, the experiments tended to
support traditional economic theory.  The lottery effect is a
similar case: what rational consumer would play the lottery?  We
have to consider the risk profile and enjoyment associated with an
activity if we are to really understand what makes a participant act
the way he/she does.  These are not easy things to quantify.

In a MMORPG, we have the additional complication of dealing with
outside world valuations for in game items.  How do we account for
the monetary value a virtual item has when trying to understand an
on-line world's economy?  I would expect that mixing economic system
valuations would greatly increase the difficulty in understanding
the on-line world's economy.  It would be nice to draw a box around
an on-line world's economy, but we probably won't get as useful
information if we do.

Pulling this back again to Dave's point, Dr. Vernon Smith and Dr.
Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics for their work
in Experimental Economics.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that
there is a Nobel Prize in studying the economies of on-line worlds,
but it seems to me that the experimental economists would certainly
be in their element when it comes to studying (and manipulating!) 
them.

Chris Schofield

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