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Technology, Dynamic Programming and Entrepreneurship

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Friday, January 16, 2004
Censorship in the Sims

There is an interesting article on Independent.co.uk. You can
read the story here.

Being a long time player of many online games, Asheron's Call 1
and 2, Dark Age of Camelot, Showbane and Final Fantasy XI, I am
very interested in the economic systems of these games. Like
the researcher mentioned in the article above, I am keenly interested
the relationship of the online worlds to the virtual worlds.

I believe these systems are a fertile ground for research on
many different levels of social and economic interaction. Many
people that I know seem to think these games are for people who
have no social skills, and they have little to no value in the
real world. My experience though as been quite the opposite.
Some of the skills that people need to be successful with these
games are as follows:

Social graces - every social structure has its outcasts and it's
celebrities. Online social systems are no different, there are
customs to be followed, and actions to be avoided. It doesn't
take much to turn yourself into an outcast, and like the real
world becoming a celebrity takes time, effort and a bit of luck.

Leadership - there are many levels of leadership that can be
excercised in these games. From the simplest level of
organizing and leading a hunting party, to the more complicated
epic quest leaders, even up to running an organization to rival
medium sized companies.

Time management - it's easy to lose time in the real world,
especially if you are having fun. In an online immersive
environment losing track of time seems even more prevalent.
However, many quests are time sensitive and managing the clock as
well as multiple groups of people is an integral part of being

Bargaining and Negotiating - there is a tremendous flow of items
and cash between players in these games. Learning how to tap
into this system and turn a profit is a crucial part of building
your characters. Any sufficiently advanced economy engine will
require you to become adept at this in order to progress to the
highest levels.

Strategy and Tactics - there a many different situations within
these games where brute force simply will not solve the problem.
Sometimes you are facing a group of monsters that is simply
overwhelming, other times you are simply facing a more powerful
opponent. In situations like these, a solid grasp of how to
exploit the weaknesses of your enemies and capitalize on your
advantages is crucial.

Diligence and Perseverance - all of these games require a
serious time commitment if you want your character to rise
beyond the beginning ranks. The more powerful you want your
character to be, the more time you will need to invest.

Networking - as in the real life, success in these games often
boils down to who you know. The more people you know and can
draw on, the more successful you will be in your endeavors.

This is a relatively short list of the skills that will be
practiced when playing these games. Success in these games is a
complicated affair, rising to heights of power and influence in
these games takes a lot of hard work and some serious
interpersonal skills.

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