Fantasy Economics

“The kicker for economists is that these virtual economic relationships have broken into the real U.S. economy. When players found EverQuest’s bartering rules inadequate, they started exchanging the armor, spells, and other Norrathian objects of value at real-world auction sites. These transactions are conducted not in Norrathian PP but in U.S. dollars and then completed between avatars inside the game. (You pay in dollars at a real-world site, then the seller’s avatar gives your avatar the goods in Norrath.) You can even buy another player’s avatar, complete with its accumulated skills and assets. Sony tried to stop all these transactions and persuaded eBay and Yahoo! Auctions to bar them on the grounds that they involve Sony’s intellectual property. But this kind of protectionism is hard to enforce whether the goods are real or virtual: Trade in Norrathian goods and services simply migrated to other sites.” Robert ShapiroFantasy EconomicsSlate)