X-Box Microtransactions

From Wired:

New car: $1. New helmet: 5 cents. Flashy new warrior's sword: 50 cents. Bigger baseball bat: three for $2. Magic spell to help defeat that tricky warlord on level five: 10 cents per use.

Welcome to the online store of the future -- the one embedded in your favorite video game. When Microsoft releases the new version of its video game console -- presumably this year -- it plans to include a storefront that will offer "microtransactions."

The idea is that everyone wins: players with disposable income can spend a few cents here and there to enhance their gameplay, and publishers get a way to create a continuing revenue stream.

"Not only do you have to sweep away the distinction between virtual and real, you have to stop looking at video games as a toy and start looking at them as an entertainment service," said Edward Castronova, an associate professor at Indiana University who studies video game economics and is the author of the forthcoming book Synthetic Worlds.

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I fantasize about an online

I fantasize about an online role playing game that models different social and economic systems, and lets us run Monte Carlo simulations of the libertarian utopia versus all contenders...

This is the article that

This is the article that triggered me:

It's about a virtual island that was sold for real money for $26.500. That makes this game more interesting than boring poker games I guess :-)

Apart from starting from different initial conditions we could also start with an Ancap society as default and later see what happens to the total value produced when "God" introduces a mandatory minimumwage in half the worlds.

Instead of rules ("x education means y extra credits") we do need laws of nature. For example, in the beginning you can't have fire without first trying ("doing research") for a couple of days. (after that time you can of course tell someone how to do it, etc.) You also can't work 24 hours per day. If you have more education you will be faster at inventing things. Whether it does (or does not) pay to get extra education is up to the players. May be it pays to just save money and hire other educated people, just like in the ordinary world. For the laws, a lot of research is probably needed to make sure the world looks like Earth and is predictable. (so there are no tricks just a few players know about). Of course, players will know that doing research to make gold out of sand is a waste of time and investing in domain names is a good idea.

One thing i'd be most interested in is: do governments arise when you start out Ancap and if so what are the reasons for that. (and are they avoidable, of course :-))

Sorry, Joep, I don't know

Sorry, Joep, I don't know the answer. That's why my comment was so short on details.

I want the system to have as few built-in rules as possible, so we don't skew the results. For example, I think if the rules are "Each year of secondary education costs X credits, and for each year of education a player can earn an extra Y credits", then the system will be biased to show that secondary education is more valuable than it may be in the real world. If, instead, players acquire real skills in the game, and can swap these skills for payment, and a spontaneous market for skill transfer develops, then we will be able to learn more.

From a research point of view, I think I want players to operate as volition engines that choose their individual values about life, and the game is as close to reality as possible, with time accelerated. We start with different initial conditions (anarchy, minarchy, welfare state, socialism, totalitarianism) and see what results we get after 500 game years.

Whether this makes a fun game is another issue--maybe people will rather just go live real life instead.

Mark, that's one of my

Mark, that's one of my favority daydreams as well. I thought a little about how it might be implemented (starting of in a stone-age setting, doing research, etc. a bit like Civilization). I think AncapGame should be extremely basic, without concepts as "property", "hiring" etc. Only a way to recognize and communicate with people if they are not too far away.

To make a link to the real world so real money gets into the system both the game maker and players can sell lives. Players have to raise children to do so and, of course, highly educated children will cost more.

I think very soon protection agencies, banking, advertising, research institutes, even judges etc. would arise because players need them for their own wealth.

One of the hard things to implement would be labor. Do you have any ideas how to do that realistically? I was thinking about something with scripts "get up, go to place X, work on machine Y, go home" so you can leave it running and to make it possible to finish a day in 10 minutes so a typical life should not take longer than a year or so to play.