Read the article
This is a fascinating article examining online communities and their
ability to mimic the economy of the offline world. I cannot tell you
how badly I wish I'd had this and the original journal article on
which it is based, when I wrote my paper on web community development.
A few questions:
Why did real-world money enter the online world of Everquest? As
Castronova comments in the article, "I liked it better when they were
just, you know, games." Nevertheless, this seems to be a growing trend
in online communities. Last year, when I was administering a web
forum, I had to shut it down. Members were using it to make a profit
selling various items. I was not hosting a virtual marketplace, nor
did I wish to. Last week, a certain forum that I used to frequent had
a "major meltdown," also money related. It's a long story, so I won't
go into it.
In his book "The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic
Frontier," Rheingold also discusses this tension between the old way
(just for fun) and the new way (just for money). I need to pick it up
again and have a read.
Did where players were from affect their ecomonic practices in the
online world? Was there any correlation between the practices in their
country and their own practices? The article doesn't discuss it at
all. The closest it comes is discussing the homeless woman with the
online palace. It would be interesting to see how someone from a
strictly communist country vs. someone in a socialist country vs.
someone in a strictly capitalist country would behave solely in terms
of their economic choices. Is there even a correlation? Is it based on
Notice the discussion below the article on morality.
Someone mentions offline morality affecting the online world. This
comment shows a lack of understanding of the nature of morality.
Morality is internal; internal things are all you can take with you
However, the question of online justice is extremely interesting. It
can be difficult to punish bad behaviour online and sometimes mistakes
happen and punishment is misappropriated. Also, there is no set method
for dealing with different incidents. "Major crimes" might be
punishable by banning. What about minor crimes? Are there any? How do
we deal with them? What constitutes a crime or violation in a game?
One would assume breaking the rules. However, as anyone who's done it
will tell you, rules can often be used as leverage.
I will leave this thought for now and come back to it later.