Power of Social Media

The Internet is not a neutral technology that will bring about social change. Instead, it is a tool created and used in a social context. While the Internet can be used to solve social ills and bring about what Lehdonvirta refers to as post-material ethics, it can also be used to reinforce and reproduce the inequalities found in material culture.

The Development Potential of Virtual Economies

A fascinating 77 page study commissioned by the World Bank and authored by Vili Lehdonvirta has estimated the revenues of the “third party gaming services industry” to be estimated at 3.0 billion USD. 

The purpose of this study was to write a report on the development potential of the virtual economy, and as such it encompasses more than online game economies. There is a great summary by Lehdonvirta over at the Virtual Economy Research Network and The Economist has a good article too. 

I had made a comment on the story over at TerraNova (“I wonder if Lehdonvirta considered the likelihood of next generation MMORPGs having mechanisms that removes the market for gold buying altogether?”) to which Vili has kindly replied;

As for future prospects, I agree that new game designs are making gold farmers increasingly unnecessary. What’s interesting, though, is that new opportunities simultaneously appear in the more widely conceived virtual economy.

The phenomenon of microwork for developing countries also seems very fascinating and makes both links a worthwhile read.

The top comment on the Economist article directed me to this news story from EVE News 24. 

In ISK we Trust: Iskbank.com Exposed, Thousands of Customers Outed.

A major ‘RMT’ (Real Money Trading) site has had its customer and order database leaked. The document contains a 11 months of trading and revenue of $290,000. Click the link to read all the juicy details, but the size of this single operation is pretty eye-opening.