[SLED] Economics of a Virtual Community

Robert A. Knop Jr. rknop at pobox.com
Tue Jan 16 14:57:03 PST 2007

On Tue, Jan 16, 2007 at 05:22:29PM +0200, Owen Kelly wrote:
> Second Life needs virtual food :)
> Nothing wrong with this, but if it is a form of economics then it is not 
> economics as we know it, Jim.

So, I'm going to disagree with all of what you wrote :)

Well, not necessarily.  I can see having the things you talk about as
options that can be attached, if needed for some game or environment
somebody was trying to create.

However, I really don't see the point of adding new artificial tacked-on
"needs" to avatars in SL.  If the goal were to simulate the real world
economy, then, yeah, sure, you need that, but I don't think that's the (or
a) primary goal of SL at all.  It might be an interesting research project
or class project-- but I'd hate to burden all of SL with the needs of that
research project.

In short, I think that it would be very BAD to have something like virtual
food-- stuff that avatars have to buy that gets used up, and that avatars
suffer without, *only* because of the programming of the server.  Sure, in a
game like World of Warcraft it makes sense, but SL is a "whole new world" --
it's a different place, an open place with potential to be a lot of
different things.  Don't pigeonhole it.

Sure, it's not economics as we know it-- but that's because, despite having
a spaital model based on our world, and avatars that look like us, it really
is a completely different place with a lot of very different basic
fundamental rules than our real world.  The economics system really ought to be
*more* different than it is, given how differeht the world is.


--Prof. Robert Knop
  Department of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University
  robert.a.knop at vanderbilt.edu

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