Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

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Virtual Currency Exchange

I got spam today offering to sell me World of Warcraft gold for $81/1000 pieces. At first I was disgusted, but then I got to talking about it with my officemate, and I realized that it is actually a very interesting sort of alternative currency.

Although I have heard stories about Ebay auctions of Everquest gold, items, or characters (Stephen Crigger sells his 35th level druid for US$780), and people paying real sums of cash for virtual real estate (Neverdie pays $100,000 for space station in Project Entropia), I had never really given much thought to the currency exchange.

Behold: IGE is a broker and currency exchange service that will let users buy and sell money, or even trade money between games. It is intersting to note that gold in World of Warcraft is worth about $.08/piece, whereas Everquest platinum is worth only $.0005/piece. The Everquest finance minister better do something about the rampant inflation (Inflation threatens EverQuest economy—even I thought I was joking). Although, really, I once exchanged $10 for 1,100,000 Yugoslavian Dinar, indicating that even units of Everquest currency are more valuable than Yugoslavia's currency circa 1990.

In case you are still thinking, "big deal, buncha nerds wasting their time and money, who cares?" I would like to direct you to Virtual Gaming Worlds overtake Namibia. The article states that the sum of the popular MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) has a greater GDP than the real-world country of Namibia, and that Jamaica isn't far behind. See also: Virtual kingdom richer than Bulgaria (from 2002).

I am waiting for the day that some people play such games for a real-world living, when virtual worlds can impose economic sanctions on real-world countries, and when I can get a real-world loan from a virtual-world bank.

Oddly, I feel more fascinated than disturbed.
Tags: alternative currency, economics, mmorpg, wow

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