Archive for the ‘RMT (Real Money Trade)’ Category

World of Warcraft Research: A Brief Note

October 3, 2007

I have been surprised and encouraged by the number of downloads of my draft on RMT and World of Warcraft over the past month or two.  So surprised that I myself downloaded it just to refresh my memory.  I opened it up, started reading it, and was dismayed with the introduction!  I wonder if I put up an older draft that had not been thoroughly edited.  The intro just makes for terrible reading.  I would like to revisit the draft and do a little bit of editing, but in the meantime I’ll leave the current draft available. 

Hopefully, the atrocious style did not turn off the mildly curious from the get-go!

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Culmination of my World of Warcraft Research

June 5, 2007

This is the last draft of my paper on RMT.  It was last edited in late February, and unless there is some great interest from the outside it will remain in its current form.  I post the link here for all to view and comment at their leisure.

World of Warcraft: Further Research

June 1, 2007

Unfortunately, my WoW research is on hold indefinitely until I get up the gumption to do it again.  In the meantime, I’ve been thinking of ways to go about looking at the real money trade (RMT) and prices that would yield excellent examples of real life economic phenomena. 

For instance:  Suppose it were possible to differentiate between gold acquired through intended mechanisms and gold acquired via RMT.  In other words, suppose there were a way to “tag” RMT.  This would make it possible to examine the flow of RMT as opposed to regular gold.  Does RMT acquisitioned gold circulate in the same general pattern as does normal money? 

 Why?  Because we could use such information to look at the effects of fluctuating currency markets have on an economy.  The exchange rate with dollars is so small that the effect on the American economy is negligible.  But as my previous research has shown, RMT can have a profound effect on the price level in the virtual economy of World of Warcraft.  Embedded within fluctuations of the price level we may find evidence of any number of economic phenomena taking place.  For instance, we may see RMT gold as foreign direct investment, and to the extent that RMT causes short run increases in economic activity (as when the federal reserve increases the money supply), we may see the virtual economy produce more as well until prices adjust. 

 There are two ways to go about getting data from and about the game.  The first is through user-interface add-ons like Norganna’s Auctioneer, which can collect information from the auction house.  I have a great deal of data from the April 2006 to October 2006 and could reexamine for certain fluctuations.  However, it would be extremely difficult to control for the account eliminations Blizzard was enacting at the time.  So better off perhaps getting someone to modify the code to collect data and index it by date and time. 

 The other possibility which I was considering for this summer but which did not pan out was an actual in-depth panel study utilizing interviews with individual players.  I think this should be explored by researchers with more time and resources than are currently at my disposal. 

World of Warcraft and RMT

April 16, 2007

I have been researching the Real Money Trade with respect to the MMO World of Warcraft for about 8 months now.  I will try to post the current draft of the resulting paper in the near future.  Today, I read this entry at PlayNoEvil about a recent problem of hacking in World of Warcraft accounts.  Further down is a summary of an article (the text of which, I admit, I have not read), by a Prof. Castronova, an economist who has written much of the seminal work in the field of RMT, including the description of  simple demand model for RMT. 

Personally, I am somewhat turned off by Castronova’s incessant diatribes against RMT, especially as a (fledgling, a.k.a undergrad) economist.  Simply renouncing RMT does not provide any new information that game companies may use to combat it, and invoking government intervention is a cardinal sin of economics of the first degree.  I think economists and game companies interested in RMT need to research the incentives that gamers face with respect to RMT, and use the resultant models to devise solutions that are both effective and cheap to implement.  Supposing that we see RMT as a the result of a failure of a game to fully enclose players in its Magic Circle, then the demand for RMT might ultimately be chalked up to game design flaws, not the incursion of cheating, criminal elements.  The impetus is then on the game company to improve/innovate in their games, instead of on the government to devise and impose more laws and create more waste. 

I’ll write about this again if I can get a chance to read the text of the actual article.

Introduction – Hopes for the Future

April 2, 2007

Notwithstanding the research blog that was required for my economic analysis class last semester, my experience with blogs begins with my livejournal.  However, this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Student Academy and I think my experience confirmed what I’ve been thinking I should do for a while now:  Start committing my more constructive mental and academic events and activities to a publicly accessible blog. 

 That said, there are essentially four broad topics which I will broach in this blog, but if it becomes necessary I will go ahead and run separate blogs in order to maintain some coherence.  These topics are:

1) My ongoing research concerning virtual economies, especially as regards world of warcraft.

This summer I hope to be able to gather the data necessary to test my hypotheses concerning the interactionss between real and virtual economies, especially in MMOs.  I’m not as interested in situations where the interaction is intentionally designed into the game, such as is the case with Project Entropia or Second Life.  My interest is more in the destructive interactions between games like WoW, EQ, EQII, and others with the real life economy.  More on this as it develops, but you can read about the early stages of my research in the blog linked above.

2. Also starting this summer, I hope to begin work on my honor’s thesis in economics with my good friend Becca under the supervision of a few of my professors, primarily Prof. Shawn Humphrey.  Becca is actually an anthropology major, among other things, and we hope to be able to do some interdisciplinary work in combining two fields of social science that often find themselves at odds with one another.  The exact topic is yet to be identified, so again there isn’t much to say about this right now.  More as it develops.

3.  Critique of Economics

As much as I love what I do, and as good as I’d like to think I am at doing it, I am often unsatisfied with certain aspects of traditional economics.  Neither, however, do I necessarily consider myself a member of one particular school of economic thought rather than another.  For lack of a better label, I’ll just call myself a critical economist. 

I think that economists wield a great deal of political power, and we often assume that this is the case because we’re just so damned good at predicting and analyzing human behavior.  While I think that is true, I also think that the assumptions we tend to make about humans in order to analyze them is both advantageous to those who wield political power and, in some cases, unsubstantiated.  You will not find me arguing  here that people are not rational; rather, I am interested in the assumptions we like to make about such socially constructed concepts as the self, conflict, government, economic systems, etc. that act to structure incentives and which are often assumed away or completely unacknowledged.

I’m interested in practicing an economics that analyzes human behavior – not one that forces undue assumptions about behavior onto humans.  This is the critical economics I will be writing about here.

4.  Philosophical meanderings

Along with being an economics major, I take at least one philosophy course every semester, and I’ve been doing this in such a way as to follow the chronological order of western philosophical thought.  I started with Thales and now I’m on Nietzsche.  Next semester is existentialism.  I enjoy the places philosophy takes me, and where I think what I have to say is intersting, I’ll be putting it up here. 

 So this is the big plan; if this blog can live up to just one of these purposes, that’d be great.