Metaverse - by Julie Whitefeather
Jul 05, 2007 11:49:14

Metaverse Economics. The term "Metaverse" was coined by Neil Stephenson in his novel "Snow Crash". It has come to embody the virtual environments rather than simply virtual realities in which we play games - MMOs. With the announcement of CCP that they had hired a economist to study the economy in Eve Online we have a new branch of economics. You may have heard of Micro-economics. You may have even heard of Macro-economics.

This appears to be the study of Meta-economics.

Unlike what may have drawn many to Eve Online, it was not the promise of flying dreadnaughts bristling with guns, screaming across the space to some far flung reaches of the universe - there to clash in some titanic battle in zero security space.

What first brought me to Eve online was the virtual economy. As difficult a learning curve as Eve online may have, and believe you me it is steep, I did not find it daunting at all. Yes, the learning curve in Eve Online may be like trying to crawl up Mount Everest backwards, but it was worth it.

Up to a point...

When I think of Eve online I don't think of battles with torpedoes firing and lasers blistering the sides of spaceships. Yes I did my share of battles, but only as a means to gaining some start up capital. For me one of the most impressive moments in the Aliens movies was when you first saw the Nostromo - as space born refinery. It was like a city in space. I recall the first time I saw one of the big Eve Online freighters fly overhead when I was in my new frigate. Like the Energy Rabbit, it just kept going and going. It was truly, truly impressive. "I want to fly one of those" I told myself. And so I set out to do just that. I did all my training (which fortunately in Eve Online can be done while you are OFF line, as training takes real world months). I learned how to mine. I had a professional mining ship that could pull in ore and ice that was needed by the big corporations. I was even in a corporation that was the victim of some corporate espionage. It was all part of the fun (thought some people didn't see it that way, CCP did). It wasn't the prospective of making real world money that attracted me to the game - it was the virtual economy.

Yes, at first it was like asking a truck driver to come home at night and drive around the living room. "Here I am, after a day in the business world," I told myself, "coming home to build a virtual business." But it was fun.

Up to a point...

And here is the point: The death penalty. Simply put it was too severe. There is such a thing in MMOs as "too much reality". I have been playing an imported MMO only to find out that PVP in certain areas can end you up in a "virtual jail". While this is far from being an original idea (Ultima Online did it long before Voyage Century did) it was a case of too much reality. If you compare virtual reality to reality, we play in virtual worlds where our usual activities would get the average player put in prison for life, at the least. The average MMO player is a virtual serial killer. Are you just killing pixels? In PVP there is a real person on the other end of those pixels. Is it just a bunch of pixels that get stolen when one player scams another? The big banking scam a while back in Eve Online resulted in enough theft of virtual currency, that its real world value was enough money to land the perpetrator of the "virtual" fraud in a cell in the Federal Penitentiary.

There is such a thing as TOO MUCH reality in VIRTUAL REALITY. For me, at least, Eve online reached that point. Yes, in the seventeenth century Caribbean there were pirates to content with. But when I have to rebuild my efforts from square one when a gang from a pirate corporation comes along and blows my freighter out of space...well...it gets old fast. Yes. Eve Online has insurance. But not for the value of your cargo, and not for the full cost of your ship. It reached the point where participating in Eve Online's virtual economy was the equivalent of starting a trucking company and having to content with a tank battalion of M-1 Abrams tanks rolling down I-65.

So what would bring me back to Eve Online?

The same thing that CCP seems concerned with: Namely meta-economics. But there is such a thing as a little too much "reality" in "virtual reality."

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Jul 05, 2007 11:49:14 CST (comments: 5)


Comments:


'Eve could be the least understood game out there atm' by Eli
Submitted on 2007-07-06 12:49:41 CST
Just because you had a bad night is not a very good basis on which to judge the death system is it? That scenario is absolutely the same as leveling in Stranglethorn Vale in WoW.

And on a humorous note, am I the only one that’s amused that every time the death penalty comes up, inevitably the definition of ‘realistic’ changes to ‘inconvenient?’ I would love to live in a world where I had a clone somewhere across space or time and couldn’t really die, or where I appeared at a graveyard in ghost form and could walk near my corpse to come back. The only thing realistic about any death in any game is the actual death part. haha

I myself stand corrected about Eve. When I finished my first two-week trial I had some of your same thoughts. Hell, I still do heh. At that time I quit in frustration. Then, because my RL brother and Father play it, I gave it another try, weeks later. This time, I took a deep breath and had an epiphany: I realized that Eve is not WoW. Once I accepted the pace in Eve – notice I didn’t say ‘got used to’ it – then all the pieces began to fall into place.

For those of you who are curious about Eve:

If you want to play a game where you're told what to do all the time, forced into a specific class role, where you run from graveyard back to the fight over and over like a Quake death match, and whose ultimate goal is playing dress up dolly, then Eve Online is going to be a sore and sad disappointment.

If you want to play a game where you decide what to do, who to be, and what skills you want from the skill buffet, where you can be Han Solo or Warren Buffet, a game with the best pvp since you were a kid running around in your back yard with your friends, and where ships and equipment are a means to and end instead of the end itself, then Eve is for you.

Having said that I hate death penalties, but Eve can't be compared to other games in this way because Eve is fundamentally differently paced than other MMOs, and the cloning and death system one of the things that makes it so important to form corporations. That's the whole point of the game -- to team up with other players to do something bigger than you can do solo. At least it’s the same for everyone: last night I lost two nice ships in a row and I am mad as hell. But the way I look at it: when I die, there’s more chance for me to create game with my bro and step father. We will go out and create some more wealth.

Best regards,
Eli



'Oops' by Eli
Submitted on 2007-07-06 13:07:31 CST
I forgot to say thanks for the thoughts Julie. How rude of me!


'A few comments' by Julie
Submitted on 2007-07-06 23:20:04 CST
Actually my comments on eve online are not based on one bad night. I played Eve Online for a little over a year. In that time I was part of a very large corporation, took part in more than one war between corporations and had a "home port" in zero sec. space. That said, I very much enjoyed the economics of it, but as well as an industrial character I had a combat pilot as well.

As far as your comment about "a game where you are told what to do all the time" if you mean to address games where there less linearity, I agree. I think that may be one of the directions in which MMOs go in the future (which is why I wrote an article about it)

Thanks much for your thoughts. I greatly appreciate them.

Julie Whitefeather



'More to life than money' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-07-09 06:56:40 CST
I'm beginning to see the light - EVE is just a hobby for business people who haven't had enough of earning the filthy lucre.

I guess it's fun earning money at the expense of the poor in society; it's fun enjoying blowing up other people's hard-earned spaceships; it's fun plotting to exploit EVE's own game system for personal gain.

I guess this is why people applaud the hackers that break into Microsoft's web-site i.e. those nasty, conniving, self-obsessed actions are fine, as long as you do it cleverly or against people that no one else likes.

Learning curve in EVE? - not one I want to travel, sorry....



'Least understood ?' by Cryptor
Submitted on 2007-07-09 12:21:17 CST
Eve least understood game around ? I am not sure if I would agree with that. You just cant find a gaming portal/blog/page these days that does not have something about Eve Online on it, and it seems that everyone out has tried it at least once.

Sure its an interesting game, sure its different, sure the space is purdy in it, but even so its really getting much more credit then its worth. There are much ( much ! ) better economy simulators out there, there are much better space sims out there as well, none of them seems to combine the two but lets not get woowed by the ability to display graphs from what appears to be super complex data.

With many people who tried it Eve suffers from the AA ( Auto Assault ) syndrome, as in ; " Yeah, neat, ok lets play something else".

As far as the learning curve in Eve, the initial difficulties that I encountered were not by any means due to complexity of the game but rather the lack of proper documentation and tutorial.

Just my few cents ;)




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