I read this interesting book called Synthetic Worlds by Edward Castronova on the plane to GDC and I was shocked when I got to chapter 7.
The book is basically about virtual worlds and how they have real economies and the willingness of people to put their real life on the back burner because they consider these virtual worlds to be a more fulfilling experience. I’ve seen all of this first-hand, of course, but it was interesting to read the professorial Castronova’s analysis. Among other observations, he first made notoriety in gaming circles for determining that Norrath (the virtual world inside Everquest) has a real world GDP slighty larger than Bulgaria. That is, the average worker in Bulgaria would be better served playing Everquest all day; they would make more money.
Chapter 7, in particular, talks about the merging of real life corporations and in-game communities. The chapter begins by quoting from me, yes yours truly, albeit while in character as I wrote our in-game corporate website. Although I am not attributed at all (which is strange, but I am not mad), the entire chapter talks about “Taggart Transdimensional” and the corporation we built for the online space-based MMO called Eve Online. There is a previous post about this here. We created this virtual company for a virtual game that was based on a real corporation. We took this approach because of the sophisticated nature of the game itself, which demanded that an organization have various disciplines work in concert: mining, industry, defense, finance, trading, etc. We had to do everything a real corporation does from HR to accounting to recruitment; and the organization was constantly evolving (see high level org chart).
Anyway, it was a very surreal experience to be reading that chapter on the plane and read about Castronova’s analysis of what we built in that game and how it is a harbinger of the real-life merging of out-of-game and in-game organizations.