You may have heard of the popular computer game World of Warcraft (WoW), which recently released its fifth expansion, which adds more quests, dungeons, and other content, in November. WoW has over 10 million players and there are few signs of this slowing down, which is impressive for a game originally released in 2004. What you might not have known is that there are complex economic and social structures in place everywhere in the game. But do these systems mirror real life in any meaningful way? I’d argue that making profit in WoW’s auction house reflects on one’s understanding of a free market since it employs similar principles. One Manhattan College professor recently likened playing WoW to a religious experience since it “tests a person’s’ ethics and values, and also gets them to think about things like environmentalism and moral issues.” I’m not sure if I’d attend a WoW church service, but the game is a great example of a virtual economy and being kind (or unkind) to your neighbor.
How is WoW’s virtual money made? This “gold” is used to buy everything from player items to goods from vendors placed around the game. It is created and destroyed when players interact with the world. By completing a quest or killing a monster, players receive gold. In an interview with the Call to Auction podcast, WoW’s lead designer gave some insight on how the game controls money supply:
In addition to many of the challenges that real-world economies face, WoW’s economy has other complications. The amount of USD introduced into the U.S. economy is controlled by the United States Treasury and the Federal Reserve. In WoW, however, the amount of gold that goes into circulation is determined by our players’ behavior. Every monster that is killed, every quest that is completed, creates more fresh currency that is added to the economic system. Gold is taken out of circulation not by a central bank, but by how much our players choose to interact with NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) to purchase various items and services.
The Auction House
As the primary way to make virtual gold, the auction house is an all-out free market with few restrictions. Players sell goods like crafting materials, pets, gems, armor, and weapons that other players need. Items are posted for 12, 24, or 48 hours at a time with varying deposit costs depending on the quality of items being posted. These deposits exist to deter too many trivial auctions. Big ticket “epic” items that are more powerful fetch significant amounts of gold, and undercutting is the name of the game for selling items quickly. Supply and demand is in full effect on the auction house, and items that players use often are more liquid, especially as player population increases.
Player population in WoW is a great example of the benefit of increasing a market’s size and encouraging more people to enter a market. If you want to find an audience for your goods, simply having more people is the best things one can do to improve that chance. WoW bluntly shows us how population control is detrimental to everyone in a free economy. What happens when people stop playing WoW and don’t participate in the virtual economy? Each person serves a purpose in this puzzle. Christianity tells us that the human person (even one playing a computer game), created in the image of God, is individually unique, rational, the subject of moral agency, and a co-creator. Players of WoW have intrinsic value, both as people and creators of its virtual economy. Having more players means more opportunities for everyone and a flourishing virtual market.
Populations in WoW are a quaint example since the controlled gold supply guarantees everyone will have some, but it also shows the good of having access to important in-game items with an active auction house. I used to play on a WoW server with thousands fewer players, and important items were simply not available at normal prices due to price gouging by the few suppliers. On a very populated server these issues disappear and those with less gold find common items more affordable due to market competition.
As you can see, this one system provides an interesting outlet for players to practice free market economics in a mostly harmless environment. If you have some time on your hands I’d recommend World of Warcraft as a fun way to do some virtual value investing.Read More
So there was an interesting announcement out of Blizzard yesterday, apparently they’re going to be releasing some names that have been parked with old characters. Specifically any characters that have not logged into the game since 13 November 2008 will have their names forfeited letting anyone snap them up once 6.0.2 hits live.
I know that reclaiming old names isn’t something new, you can already petition to have unused names released on a case by case basis. I’m not sure what the current requirements are, but I’m guessing the character in question will have to be thoroughly abandoned before a Game Master will give its name to you.
The date they chose is the release date for Wrath of the Lich King (yeah, that came out over six years ago now) so basically if a character hasn’t been played since The Burning Crusade, that name is now up for grabs. It’s a good date in my opinion, I mean if you haven’t played a character since then, it’s thoroughly been forgotten. Plus, the character isn’t being deleted, it’s just loosing it’s name. They’ve also given us plenty of warning, so if you are particularly attached to a name you haven’t used in six years, you can still save it.
Originally I didn’t think this would free up many names, but then I remembered that this game came out in 2004 (wow), and now I’ve had to revise that. This is going to free up a lot of names, especially the simpler and more generic names. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them get snatched up again though, I know several people are planning on swooping up as many names as they can when they’re released.
The Godmother over at Alt:ernative Chat speculated that this may be a draw for old players with lapsed subscriptions, but I don’t agree. People who haven’t played in six years aren’t very likely to care about character names, and I don’t think this will bring them back.
No, I think this is just a logistical issue, Blizzard is running out of names. Think about it, especially since we’re no longer allowed to use characters outside the Latin alphabet, there’s only so many possible names. I think this is simply so new characters can be added to old servers.
Still, good move by Blizzard, I’m sure there’s a lot of people excited about this.
Since Rise of the Tomb Raider is properly confirmed for the PC now (in early 2016) it seems only reasonable to start paying attention to its Games offerings.
As shown during the Microsoft press event earlier today, here’s six minutes of Lara looking pensive by a campfire, stealthing around a Trinity camp of some sort, and listening to guys talk about their possible promotions before stabbing them in the neck. Lara, no! That guard was just doing this job until he could pay off his mortgage! The horror …
Honestly, this particular segment most closely resembles something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution; which is not to say that ALL of Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be that way, or that looking like Deus Ex is bad or anything. Lara’s never exactly been a stranger to shooting people she disagreed with, after all.
There may well be huge swathes of the game involving jumping puzzles and lever toggling. It’s not in this trailer though.Read More
Eidos Montreal have scheduled a Deus Ex: Mankind Divided stream for Friday, in which more details are promised about the game. In the mean time, though, a few images and bits of artwork have appeared out of Gamescom.
There are four of each, and the in-game ones seem to have been sharpen-filtered to within an inch of their lives. They depict Jensen hiding behind a pillar while things explode in the background, Jensen hiding behind a box looking at some burly security guards, Jensen going for a stroll near some weird modern art, and a first person shot of some remote hacking.
The art, on the other hand, seems to focus on the fashion of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. There’s a man in a dapper suit, plus some NPCs in different outfits. The set is rounded off with a concept art piece showing a train, and a city square overlaid with holo-ads in a sort of They Live style.Read More
Games brings an in-game (or close to it) trailer for Anno 2205, along with several more images and a few more details about the sixth entry in the city building series.
Anno 2205 is another installment based in the near-ish future (though further than 2070, obviously,) and once again puts you in charge of constructing a thoroughly marvellous city with a thriving economy. A breakthrough in fusion energy spells good news for running an efficient, energy-conscious society; with the slight problem that the necessary helium-3 isotope can only be found on the moon.
But hey, it’s the year 2205, going to the moon is well within the reach of humanity. As the Games trailer (below) and screenshots make clear, the moon won’t be the only place to expand – the Arctic also has resources aplenty available. Just ask Putin.
Anno 2205’s ‘Sector Mode’ will enable you to play on multiple islands, “instantaneously connecting different regions.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I imagine it’s to do with switching between your city, Arctic and moon areas. The islands are also said to be “five times bigger” than in previous Anno titles.
Cast your eyes below to see what looks to be in-game footage, plus a selection of screenshots.Read More