[SLED] Economics of a Virtual Community

Owen Kelly owen.kelly at arcada.fi
Tue Jan 16 22:28:09 PST 2007

Robert A. Knop Jr. wrote:
> However, the mere fact that there is a "prevent copy / prevent
> modification / prevent transfer" set of flags on virtual objects means
> that it's not a blank slate....  I ranted about this at length in
> another message, but it *is* trying to import from the real world
> limitations on the copy of objects that aren't strictly necessary given
> the ground rules of the world.  
I completely agree with this. SL is *not* a blank slate. There are lot 
of choices that have been made that are not there for technical reasons 
but are the outcome of design decisions - decisions that make the world 
what it is. The blank slate idea is purely hype and obfuscation by the 

Limiting the size of prims artificially is one design decision, for 
example, which (combined with the prim allocation on each plot of land) 
affects the world by limiting what can be built. Four 32m mega-prims 
will provide the same floor space for a park or whatever that would 
normally be provided by 36 normal prims.

My personal bugbear, though, is flying, which is something I do think is 
wrong, and which we have switched off in Rosario. Why do I think it is 
wrong? Well, the Rosarian development team claims that we have not 
switched off flying, we have switched on distance.

With distance switched on it takes time to get from A to B and you have 
to move through all places in between. So some places are more secluded 
than others, and some places are less attractive as destinations than 
others. In addition, there is now an economic reason to provide public 
transport, and private transport. Roller skates and motorbikes are 
suddenly not just toys. They are almost-necessary ways of reducing the 
time it takes to get from one end of the island to the other - something 
we believe will provide an incentive to some of our students to script some!

Food would indeed be a very very blunt instrument for introducing any 
economic needs (as opposed to optional luxuries) into the world.
My arguments about food were solely related to whether SL could be used 
as a simulation of real world economics, and I would not, personally 
lobby for avatars to be burdened with the need to forage, hunt or eat 
Big Macs every hour or so.

However I believe that there are other ways which we might usefully 
explore. Switching on distance is one we are experimenting with at the 
moment, and the idea of sleeping avatars that need to be sheltered from 
bodysnatchers, that Dirk DaSilva suggested, sounds like another good one 
to think about.

In fact it sounds a very good one :)


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