Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games

University of Chicago Press
11
Free sample

From EverQuest to World of Warcraft, online games have evolved from the exclusive domain of computer geeks into an extraordinarily lucrative staple of the entertainment industry. People of all ages and from all walks of life now spend thousands of hours—and dollars—partaking in this popular new brand of escapism. But the line between fantasy and reality is starting to blur. Players have created virtual societies with governments and economies of their own whose currencies now trade against the dollar on eBay at rates higher than the yen. And the players who inhabit these synthetic worlds are starting to spend more time online than at their day jobs.

In Synthetic Worlds, Edward Castronova offers the first comprehensive look at the online game industry, exploring its implications for business and culture alike. He starts with the players, giving us a revealing look into the everyday lives of the gamers—outlining what they do in their synthetic worlds and why. He then describes the economies inside these worlds to show how they might dramatically affect real world financial systems, from potential disruptions of markets to new business horizons. Ultimately, he explores the long-term social consequences of online games: If players can inhabit worlds that are more alluring and gratifying than reality, then how can the real world ever compete? Will a day ever come when we spend more time in these synthetic worlds than in our own? Or even more startling, will a day ever come when such questions no longer sound alarmist but instead seem obsolete?

With more than ten million active players worldwide—and with Microsoft and Sony pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into video game development—online games have become too big to ignore. Synthetic Worlds spearheads our efforts to come to terms with this virtual reality and its concrete effects.

“Illuminating. . . . Castronova’s analysis of the economics of fun is intriguing. Virtual-world economies are designed to make the resulting game interesting and enjoyable for their inhabitants. Many games follow a rags-to-riches storyline, for example. But how can all the players end up in the top 10%? Simple: the upwardly mobile human players need only be a subset of the world's population. An underclass of computer-controlled 'bot' citizens, meanwhile, stays poor forever. Mr. Castronova explains all this with clarity, wit, and a merciful lack of academic jargon.”—The Economist

Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations.”—Tim Harford, Chronicle of Higher Education

Read more

About the author

Edward Castronova is associate professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, where he specializes in the economic and social impact of multiplayer online video games.
Read more
3.7
11 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Read more
Published on
Sep 15, 2008
Read more
Pages
344
Read more
ISBN
9780226096315
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Business & Economics / General
Computers / General
Computers / Virtual Worlds
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Video games as both a departure from and a development of traditional games; an analysis of the interaction between rules and fiction in video games.

A video game is half-real: we play by real rules while imagining a fictional world. We win or lose the game in the real world, but we slay a dragon (for example) only in the world of the game. In this thought-provoking study, Jesper Juul examines the constantly evolving tension between rules and fiction in video games. Discussing games from Pong to The Legend of Zelda, from chess to Grand Theft Auto, he shows how video games are both a departure from and a development of traditional non-electronic games. The book combines perspectives from such fields as literary and film theory, computer science, psychology, economic game theory, and game studies, to outline a theory of what video games are, how they work with the player, how they have developed historically, and why they are fun to play.

Locating video games in a history of games that goes back to Ancient Egypt, Juul argues that there is a basic affinity between games and computers. Just as the printing press and the cinema have promoted and enabled new kinds of storytelling, computers work as enablers of games, letting us play old games in new ways and allowing for new kinds of games that would not have been possible before computers. Juul presents a classic game model, which describes the traditional construction of games and points to possible future developments. He examines how rules provide challenges, learning, and enjoyment for players, and how a game cues the player into imagining its fictional world. Juul's lively style and eclectic deployment of sources will make Half-Real of interest to media, literature, and game scholars as well as to game professionals and gamers.

A study of Everquest that provides a snapshot of multiplayer gaming culture, questions the truism that computer games are isolating and alienating, and offers insights into broader issues of work and play, gender identity, technology, and commercial culture.

In Play Between Worlds, T. L. Taylor examines multiplayer gaming life as it is lived on the borders, in the gaps—as players slip in and out of complex social networks that cross online and offline space. Taylor questions the common assumption that playing computer games is an isolating and alienating activity indulged in by solitary teenage boys. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), in which thousands of players participate in a virtual game world in real time, are in fact actively designed for sociability. Games like the popular Everquest, she argues, are fundamentally social spaces.

Taylor's detailed look at Everquest offers a snapshot of multiplayer culture. Drawing on her own experience as an Everquest player (as a female Gnome Necromancer)—including her attendance at an Everquest Fan Faire, with its blurring of online—and offline life—and extensive research, Taylor not only shows us something about games but raises broader cultural issues. She considers "power gamers," who play in ways that seem closer to work, and examines our underlying notions of what constitutes play—and why play sometimes feels like work and may even be painful, repetitive, and boring. She looks at the women who play Everquest and finds they don't fit the narrow stereotype of women gamers, which may cast into doubt our standardized and preconceived ideas of femininity. And she explores the questions of who owns game space—what happens when emergent player culture confronts the major corporation behind the game.

OpTic Gaming, the four-time Call of Duty Major League Gaming Champions and one of the top eSports teams in the world, now takes fans behind the controller—into the game and the minds of the greatest gamers in the world—in this fascinating and unique memoir and insider guide.

Emerging on the scene in 2006, OpTic Gaming has dominated the Call of Duty e-sports arena, thanks to the talents of legendary players such as Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag, the biggest eSports personality on earth; Seth “Scump” Abner, the best Call of Duty player in the world; Midnite, one of the first girl gamers to rise to stardom on YouTube; and Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, the team founder and CEO. With over 14 million followers across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, no other team of players in eSports can match OpTic's popularity or ability to bring fans into the game.

Now, these remarkable players have collaborated to produce this one-of-a-kind book. In OpTic Gaming, they candidly share their story of becoming Call of Duty's global royalty—ESPN XGAMES, MLG, ESWC and GFINITY champions—laying bare their lives, exploring what it takes to make it in professional gaming, and speaking honestly about the consequences of their newfound fame. These best-of-the-best take you behind the controller, offering insights, knowledge, and strategies to help you improve your shot, master the most complex maps, and conquer the game with the ultimate weapons. Going beyond their number-one game, the team also discusses the rest of their lineups and how to become a champion in any arena. Revealing their go-to strategies, best missions, and favorite challenges, OpTic Gaming brings fans closer to these wildly popular professional gamers more than ever before.

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.

  政府查不到,免稅!
  你看不到,卻受它控制……

  企業用紅利創造貨幣,遊戲玩家用點數交易,你自己也可以發行貨幣?!
  虛擬貨幣正形成龐大金流,會發生金融恐慌嗎?能讓人致富嗎?

  沈中華(台大財金系教授)、詹宏志(網路家庭董事長)、劉瑞華(清大經濟系系主任)、蔣顯斌(新浪網聯合創辦人、CNEX董事長)/推薦

  ●虛擬貨幣正在大爆發,你知道嗎?

  全球現在約有數十億人正在使用虛擬貨幣,人數只會越來越多,而且幾乎你能想到的每一種大型線上社群、以及你沒想到的數千個社群系統,都在發行自己的虛擬貨幣,例如:

  ‧最大的社群媒體臉書二○一○年發行「cc點數」。
  ‧最大的網路商店亞馬遜二○一三年發行「亞馬遜幣」。
  ‧電玩遊戲有專屬貨幣:魔獸世界金幣、天堂天幣、屠龍點數……每種遊戲都有,且越來越多樣。
  ‧我們日常熟悉的品牌與企業,也都在發行自己的虛擬貨幣──企業紅利點數、常客飛行里程數……

  ●實體經濟正在虛擬化,虛擬貨幣正在入侵實體經濟,你發現了嗎?

  隨著上網時間越長、生活型態越數位化,兩種經濟趨勢正彼此衝擊與融合:
  一是實體經濟交易正在虛擬化,我們越來越頻繁使用電子錢包、線上刷卡、支付系統……
  二是數位形式的虛擬貨幣也一步步入侵實體經濟,讓人不必花真實的金錢,也能進行實體消費,例如:
  ‧兩千萬Xbox遊戲賣場玩家,可以用「微軟點數」在網影(Netflix)租電影。
  ‧亞馬遜幣可以購買亞馬遜網站上的所有實體商品。
  ‧有人用比特幣買豪宅、繳學費,二○一三年比特幣總價值達15億美元。
  ‧有人把常客飛行里程數換成現金,從加拿大飛到美國接受醫療照顧。
  ‧中國人因為太喜歡用QQ幣在實體經濟買東西,使得中國政府在二○○七年禁止QQ幣兌換人民幣。
  ‧二○一二年臉書捨棄發行單一cc點數,轉換定位另創可匯兌各種遊戲幣的支付系統,經濟規模可能有近64億美元。

  ●虛擬貨幣裡的機會與風險,你看懂了嗎?

  虛擬貨幣雖然只是電腦上的數字,算得出來的虛擬金流就超過150億美元(而這只是二○一二年虛擬經濟的一小部分),如果你能了解其中的運作機制,就能從中獲利,否則也可能蒙受其害:
  ‧任何個人與企業,利用現成的應用程式軟體,就可以發行虛擬貨幣。
  ‧個人可以利用虛擬貨幣交易、致富,(甚至逃稅、洗錢)。
  ‧企業可以利用虛擬貨幣做為非實體資產,(甚至逃稅、洗錢)。
  ‧結果,個人與企業都能從中得到快樂與財富,政府會怎麼樣、又該怎麼辦?

  ●想像一下,虛擬經濟的未來……

  未來你的帳戶裡可能有:新台幣、美元、日圓、便利超商點數、各種零售公司與品牌的紅利積點、信用卡紅利點數、航空公司里程數、比特幣、line幣、《魔獸世界》金幣……,市面上可能有數千種貨幣在流通。你可以用它們來購買巧克力棒、付學費、買房子……而你的「數位價值移轉系統」會幫你自動轉換匯率,任何交易都可能實現!

  現在的我們,正處在數位虛擬與真實世界交融的漩渦中,
  看懂其中的機會與威脅,你就能為自己創造價值。

本書特色

  1.最新!最全面!涵蓋虛擬貨幣史、網路交易模式、科技與電玩產業的虛擬貨幣專著。
  2.以淺顯易懂的案例說明,虛擬貨幣如何衍生出來、又如何入侵現實生活。
  3.虛擬貨幣經濟學是未來趨勢,小至個人、企業,大至國家,都必須了解的經濟新知!
©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.