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1-10-2009 @ 5:52PM
Really? It's that easy to just start a college course? Just like that? Hmmm, seems like Mr. Friedman didn't think things through.First of all, he's acting like he can just walk up, make a proposal, and see it available on the academic curriculum by the next semester. But life isn't that simple, and he sure wants it to be. These types of proposals (even if they had any chance at all) need to go through ENDLESS amounts of approvals through various committees, councils and boards, and then have to be recognized by the state education board as a valid course for school credit.Okay, now lets be realistic. How much longer does everyone think WoW has left in it? Maybe another expansion pack? Two if we're really feeling like pushing it? The game is already over 5 years old now and as much as I love the game, my drive has waned and so has most everyone else's. Already people are starting to feel "ho-hum" about the same old grind present in WotLK and showing signs of WoW burnout, admitting that they still play WoW almost out of habit, but the joy just isn't there. My girlfriend made a good analogy. Say you ate Cheerios every morning and loved them. Then after a few years, you gave Honey Nut Cheerios a shot and said, 'Wow! a different type of Cheerios. Awesome." And then a couple of years later, you switch over to Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and though, "You know, this is good and different and all, but I'm kinda starting to want to try something other than Cheerios soon." Blizzard knows their game has a half-life, which is why they were smart enough to have already started working on their next MMO. It was a really smart move on their part, because they knew that if WoW was going to lose it's appeal eventually, why let another company steal away their fanbase, when they can just transfer their fanbase over to one of their own new MMOs instead? It's actually pretty smart. In essence, they are trying to ensure that they are only competing with themselves and their own products.Now get back on topic, lets say this guy's proposal had ANY chance of happening, doesn't he realize that by the time anything actually came of it, people would read the course curriculum and say to themselves, "World of WarCraft? That game is soooooo 2006. Who plays that old game anymore?"Essentially, he's proposing a course that will cost lots of money to implement (in the middle of an economic crisis, to boot) and is guaranteed to become obsolete, perhaps even the moment it would be implemented. I would have bought his argument more if it was say, a game economics course for a school like "The Art Institute," "Gnomon," or "Full Sail" where they have programs geared for Bachelors Degrees in Game Art and Development, but not as a general economics course at a University where games have no relation to anything. Even then, I would say that it would need to be a general game economics course, that maybe has a special portion that discusses the WoW economy. I've had a game development course that had a section discussing game economy, starting with board games (remember Monopoly has an economy system too), but it was only a piece of a bigger pie. Don't get me wrong, if your focus is to become a game developer, then I think the study of game economies is important, in fact, should be required study. This guy's proposal is beyond that, and really seems more focused on his personal desire to see WoW integrated into more of his facets of real life. And if Mr. Friedman reads these responses (and he may very well do so) I hope he considers some of these issues, because if that wasn't enough I would like to hear his explanation of how he plans to deal with another critical flaw in the WoW economy (and game economy in general). I have seen him discuss the economics in WoW in relation to the AH and supply and demand but he's completely forgetting about the generation and destruction of money in the game entirely. In a real world economy, the dollar, or legal tender, is circulated. How many transactions has a quarter, minted in 1976, been involved in, up to this point. In WoW, outside of a personal transaction, or the AH, where does it go? WoW's economy has too many black holes where the money is either created or destryed. In the real world, for example, we can't kill Kobolds and take their money. We have to find some way to earn it through work or trade. But in WoW, when a mob is killed, money is generated, in essence, "appears out of thin air", and of course, where does the money go when you buy a flying mount from an NPC, lets say? Nowhere. The money is destroyed. Lost in a black hole. The money in WoW is initially generated by random number generation. A real economy doesn't work this way. Compound this with the fact that a real economy fluctuates. I've never heard of a recession in an MMO economy. Only inflation. That's because when money is easily and randomly "generated" or "created" in WoW or any other MMO, there's little room for any type of recession. Sure, on the AH, a recent patch can drop the price of an items demand on the AH, but this doesn't affect the overall economy of the game, just the market for that particular item. Of course, in real life, if you are all keeping up with the economic issue, we should all be aware that the idea of simply generating and "injecting" money into an economy doesn't work so smoothly, and opens a huge can of worms. My overall point is, a WoW economy is so vastly different from the mechanics of a real world economy that I can't see any way you could possibly argue that it can be taught as an alternative to, or equal credit to a real-world economy course. With all do respect Mr. Friedman, you really didn't think this idea through.
1-10-2009 @ 6:01PM
That may be a wall of text, but it was well worth reading through. Some excellent points here
1-10-2009 @ 6:03PM
I think you might not have thought this comment through, because the very beginning of Mr. Friedman's entry is littered with "suppose"s and "let's say"s.
1-10-2009 @ 6:32PM
I think the differences between a real world economy and the heavily managed WoW economy where sources of money can be created/destroyed/adjusted at will is what would make a course/paper/article interesting. Considering how so many aspects of our life are moving online, particularly media purchasing, I think its relevant to study how a managed economy can work and comparing it to less controlled systems (eve comes to mind). Virtual economies are becoming part of our lives and understanding them properly is making people a small amount of money at the moment (gold farming etc) but in the future its likely to become huge.Just because its massively different to the system we use in the real world at the moment doesn't mean its not relevant to us. For example whats happening in Zimbabwe is unlikely to ever happen here (UK) but I'd still expect an economics student to study it.
1-10-2009 @ 6:36PM
Sorry about the wall of text. I actually didn't realize that my response had gotten so long until after I had posted. Also on a second reading, (after personally cringing at some of my typos and syntax - what can I say, I tend to rush these types of posts), I feel that maybe I came off as a little more combative in my response than was deserved. I still stand by my original points, but there tends to be a natural combative or defensive tone that I take on by default on WOWInsider, and perhaps it got the best of me. And also on a second read, and from some points that were brought up to me by other posters, is that this is not necessarily a serious proposal with serious plans to be pitched as an actual college level course, but perhaps was more of a hypothetical idea or just one of those "wouldn't it be interesting?" types of ideas. As i said, I still stand by my points, but I admit that I may have misunderstood the intentions of Mr. Friedman's blog article.
1-10-2009 @ 7:02PM
@ eadipusHmmm...that is an interesting point you make. I think I'm willing to meet you half way on that and say that perhaps there is some cause to examine the effects of a virtual economy (not just a WoW economy). I'm still not convinced that it justifies its own separate course, but I can maybe understand it being a side-bar to an economy course. I think the thing about Zimbabwe's economy is that it counts as the global economy, and you'd probably be amazed at how much effect a seemingly unrelated economy can actually have on your own. Consider that Zimbabwe was at one point, under the control of the UK until its recent independence, and that the UK still conducts many operations from within. Also, due to their current economic hardships and their poor living conditions, you'll have to consider the involvment that the UK has had and the investment they have put into Zimbabwe in recent years, including trade, travel, and humanitarian efforts, all of which, in one way or another, affect the economy of the UK. Especially when you consider that it has long still been a valuable resource in trade for gold, ivory, diamonds and copper, not to mention safari expeditions for big game hunting and even illegal poaching.On that note, since I've opened up that can, the point could also be made that we need to look at and consider China's economy and the effects that gold farming and trading for real-world currency as well as real world taxing on such transactions, has had on China's economy. I can see the legitimacy in studying that and those economic effects. I'm just not sure I'm open to dedicating an entire course curriculum to the study of the WoW economy just for it's own sake.
1-11-2009 @ 9:39AM
"But in WoW, when a mob is killed, money is generated, in essence, "appears out of thin air", and of course, where does the money go when you buy a flying mount from an NPC, lets say? Nowhere. The money is destroyed. Lost in a black hole."Killing a mob is our "job" in WoW. Occupation: Hero. Money, in real life, also seems to "appear out of thing air" in that there's no solid backing of the cash. Legal Tender is nothing more than something that we, as people, have agreed has worth. Killing mobs or doing a job causes us to generate money that, and this is the important part, does not really exist. If money couldn't suddenly appear out of thin air in reality, inflation would never happen. As for the black hole argument, that's ridiculous. Just because they don't have any visible use, that doesn't mean that it's not being used. Your average taxpayers has no idea where his or her specific tax dollars are going. To them it's more or less a black hole because, more often than not, there's no up front visibility of their money being used. Irl taxes are used to repair roads, keep schools going, pay government employees, etc. Why can't we rp WoW gold being used in a similar way. The flight trainer has to spend his time training up mounts too. It's not like he can magically create an already fully trained and docile flying mount out of nowhere. Thrall needs to pay his guards, the auction house needs to pay its taxes, so on and so forth.
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