• Title: Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games
  • Author: Edward Castronova
  • ISBN: 9780226096278
  • Page: 367
  • Format: Paperback
  • Synthetic Worlds The Business and Culture of Online Games 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 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 blurFrom 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 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 alluring and gratifying than reality, then how can the real world ever compete Will a day ever come when we spend time in these synthetic worlds than in our own Or even startling, will a day ever come when such questions no longer sound alarmist but instead seem obsolete With 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

    One Reply to “Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games”

    1. Pretty interesting topic but boring delivery. I stopped halfway through and then just skimmed what looked like the more interesting parts. This is still the future though.The economics stuff in world design was pretty interesting. Where do you put npcs, are there arbitrage opportunities, are there internal or external markets, inflationThis brings up the question of where play ends and work begins. I've definitely been in positions where a video game has been less than fun. Grinding and such. Wh [...]

    2. This book was great. And throughout the book the author really had something to say. There are no long lists of statistics as can be the filler in many nonfiction type books. There couldn't be, even if the author wanted to, though: he is a bit of a pioneer on this subject. He asks interesting questions and then answers them.Probably the best parts of this book is where Castronova applies economics to the subject of online video games. I loved particularly the section about "fun" economic systems [...]

    3. Synthetic worlds, virtual worlds, online worlds, whatever your term of choice, these are all the same thing.Some synthetic worlds exist for the sake of being synthetic worlds. Second Life is a good example.Others are game-based, such as World of Warcraft.The conventional wisdom was that we'd need immersive 3D graphics, preferably with a Virtual Reality-type setup for people to become immersed. The conventional wisdom was wrong; simple 2D graphics are, quite often, enough for people to get immers [...]

    4. Brilliant! I expected this book to be interesting, and I thought it might be fun. I didn't anticipate it being so thoughtful, so broad-ranging, and such a genuinely important book.It's an in-depth multi-faceted study of MMORPGs, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, of all genres and around the world. The author deliberately chose the term 'synthetic world', among other reasons because he intended to avoid the phrase 'virtual reality' - his thesis on that is that the over-hyped techno [...]

    5. In many ways this book came as a relief. It is written by someone who actually has lengthy experience with the subject, and it applies an uncommonly deep level of examination to the problem of how MMORPGs interact with our daily lives. There is quite a bit of quality material here, anchored by detailed but readable economic analysis.On the bad side, Castronova's writing style is unpleasant to read: a lot of failed humor, and far more personal anecdote than is desired. The structure of the book i [...]

    6. I am a game designer that is currently working on small MMOs and even though I do not belong to his stated target audience I picked up the book in hopes to learn something about the economies in MMOs. I have to admit I am quite disappointed with this book and not just because it barely dealt with the issue of MMO economies. I can easily forgive many of his misinformation since he had never worked on developing a game directly but most of this seems more like over hyped optimism with very little [...]

    7. My perception of this book might be a little biased as Castranova came to speak to one of my classes. I found his arguments about the synthetic economy intersecting with the real economy compelling. Although I am not sure that gaming is going to be our refuge from the modern condition, I think it is an interesting thought experiment and useful for analyzing gaming's popularity. This book is easy to read yet very informative. You don't have to posses a deep background in economics to understand t [...]

    8. Most of this book seems to fall into two sections. The first discusses the current state of synthetic worlds, and most of the author's claims are either obviously factual or almost self-evident. The second portion, however, is more conjectural, and here Castronova seems to completely overreach on the topic. His ideas on the projection of force into or out of synthetic worlds are nonsensical, and his thoughts on 'toxic immersion' seem equally fantastic. I think the book would have benefited if he [...]

    9. This book takes a really interesting look at virtual worlds, although at times Castronova gets a little too gushy about how great they are. (To be fair, I may be biased--I have never played a MMORPG and my first attempts to get into Second Life have been exceedingly frustrating.) The economic and governance aspects of virtual worlds are really interesting and eye-opening, especially the discussion of "what makes an economy fun?"

    10. Thoroughly enjoyable book on the social and economic structures of MMORPGs. The first part of the book is a little pedantic for those who already have a familiarity with how MMORPGs work, but once the stage is set, Castronova makes an excellent case for the genre to be an area of study for those interested in economics, politics, and sociology. I am looking forwards to reading more from him.

    11. castronova is cool and on point but econ bores me. especially when its pixel pushing in an mmorpg. if you can swing real benjamins from virtual worlds, all the more power to you. but if you feel compelled to put real dollars to buy virtual currency to buy that epic boe? i question your reality.

    12. They say economics is the 'dismal science' and this book proves that is true. A look into the emerging area of on-line communities becomes a tepid review of economic theory. Written like a textbook, it removes all the joy and wonder from this movement.

    13. In alcune parti molto interessante: in altre meno.mi aspettavo una maggiore anttenzione ai problemi della 'esistenza' dentro i mondi virtuali. Invece l'autore si concetra molto di più tra interazioni ed effetti fra mondo reale e virtuale

    14. A stunning read on the growing online game communities and what it might mean in the near future. Written by an economist, but with humor and clear examples. Fascinating and very insightful!

    15. If you have any interest in MMOs or virtual worlds, consider this your bible. Castronova is a genius and I really can't recommend this book highly enough.

    16. Lots of rich information. I didn't have time to get through it in 1 week for my class! I will definitely finish it up this summer when I have more time to read!

    17. I bet it's a trip to be Castronova's research assistant - he combines two things I love and explores them both seriously and in an entertaining way.

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