on 6 November 2006
Ed Castranova is probably the best known academic who writes about virtual worlds and Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games. These include the big online fantasy games such as Everquest and World of Warcaft, where thousands of people go and adventure together in lavish 3D worlds, as well as the more creative virtual playgrounds such as Second Life and Project Entropia, where people can more or less create whatever virtual objects they like and possibly make a real living from it.
In his first proper book on the subject, he refers back to his very first paper where he argued how the `residents' of Everquest were more productive in real dollar terms than the residents of some real countries. This brought him international fame and now many other academics are now researching the subject.
From this basis he describes what makes a virtual world, looking at the design, the technology, the in-game economy, the social aspects and possible futures for the genre. I find Castranova a very accessible writer and found this book very interesting. People who are knowledgeable about the subject may not find too much they didn't know already but nevertheless it's a good read for anyone interested in the subject.
on 3 April 2009
An essential text that has already become a classic, addressing the issues arising in MMORPGs and MUDs, most of which apply directly to the fundamentals of the more recent 'goal-free' worlds such as Second Life. Castronova writes as a senior economics academic, and deals with all the relevant issues of the synthetic world economy and its relationship to the non-synthetic world. Along the way he successfully establishes and defends a position that asserts the mutual interpenetration of synthetic and non-synthetic worlds, based on the widely-accepted utility (subjective) definition of the value of goods and services offered in a marketplace. Thus, an artefact created within Second Life and sold for the same final bid alongside non-synthetic articles on e-Bay is as real and as valuable as they are: within the economist's definition of value, identical. Text 283pp, Appendix 10pp, Notes 16pp, References 7pp, Index 14pp. It could have been dry but it is emphatically not so; a fascinating account, told with humour and insight.
on 19 November 2011
This book was probably very good 10 years ago, but is very out of date now. Especially useless for business of gaming. There where only one million users of WOW at the time and ebay allowed sales on it, as I said many years out of date.