Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis (Information Policy) (Paperback)

Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis (Information Policy) By Vili Lehdonvirta, Edward Castronova Cover Image

Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis (Information Policy) (Paperback)

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How the basic concepts of economics—including markets, institutions, and money—can be used to create and analyze economies based on virtual goods.

In the twenty-first-century digital world, virtual goods are sold for real money. Digital game players happily pay for avatars, power-ups, and other game items. But behind every virtual sale, there is a virtual economy, simple or complex. In this book, Vili Lehdonvirta and Edward Castronova introduce the basic concepts of economics into the game developer's and game designer's toolkits. Lehdonvirta and Castronova explain how the fundamentals of economics—markets, institutions, and money—can be used to create or analyze economies based on artificially scarce virtual goods. They focus on virtual economies in digital games, but also touch on serious digital currencies such as Bitcoin as well as virtual economies that emerge in social media around points, likes, and followers. The theoretical emphasis is on elementary microeconomic theory, with some discussion of behavioral economics, macroeconomics, sociology of consumption, and other social science theories relevant to economic behavior.

Topics include the rational choice model of economic decision making; information goods versus virtual goods; supply, demand, and market equilibrium; monopoly power; setting prices; and externalities. The book will enable developers and designers to create and maintain successful virtual economies, introduce social scientists and policy makers to the power of virtual economies, and provide a useful guide to economic fundamentals for students in other disciplines.

Vili Lehdonvirta is a Research Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

Edward Castronova is Professor of Communications and Professor of Cognitive Science at Indiana University. He is the author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games and Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality.
Product Details ISBN: 9780262535069
ISBN-10: 0262535068
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: May 9th, 2014
Pages: 306
Language: English
Series: Information Policy
Many professors and independent readers will choose to supplement this book's information with reading packets and online resources, but Virtual Economies could easily stand alone in any context. Highly recommended.—Curtis Frye, Technology and Society