EVE Online In The BBC News

The BBC News website had an article about EVE Online today. Apparently CCP employ an economic analyst to monitor the in-game economy and the daily transactions (all 1.2 million of them), watching the ebb and flow of commodities and looking for trends and possible cheating. It’s sounds like the perfect world for economists, one in which every minor detail is recorded perfectly, data mining heaven for the right sort of geek.

The EVE UI: Slightly less painful than being punched in the face

The EVE UI: Slightly less painful than being punched in the face

This particular geek with the lucky job (I mean that sincerely – stats are sexy) happens to be Dr Eyjolfur Gudmundsson and apparently he reckons the real world (y’know, the Physical Realm) could learn a lot from EVE Online. And if by that he means greed, backstabbing, dirty politics and corruption, then I hate to break it to him but it’s a lesson we’ve already learnt.

Of course he doesn’t though. He means that Planet Earth and it’s fragile banking system could benefit from the level of transparency available when analysing a game like EVE. Gudmundsson says “people do make the good choices when they have the right information” and that the lack of information is why we’re all in the mucky money mess we’re in now. I couldn’t agree more.

And on another note, this is exactly why EVE is outstanding and the perfect example of how it’s more of a “virtual world” than a video game. It offers a living, breathing, flowing economy, the likes of we we don’t see in most MMORPGs. It’s heck of a lot of fun, but it’s also the closest thing we have to actually escaping into another Matrix-like dimension. Plus it’s just bloody fascinating. The game has it’s own in-house statistician for crying out loud!

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  1. Longasc says:

    They are also great about making a lot fuss about nothing. You know, the butterfly effect video. Or calling a corp bank robbing scam a “heist”.

    You play EVE, you know how the game. The most backstabbing was indeed done as dev himself revealed some insider knowledge to Band of Developers or what was this alliance called again. ;)

  2. Tesh says:

    What, no CDOs or SIVs in EVE?

  3. You should read some of the quarterly economic reports he produces. Neat stuff.

  4. Stabs says:

    I must admit I find this often repeated line that virtual economies teach us about real ones very dubious.

    In the BBC article the journalist cites Dr Gudmundsson as stating “Eve has no “lender of last resort” players are consequently very careful about who they trust with their in-game money and very wary of those who aren’t open about their business.”

    Actually I think most Eve investors think almost all investments are or will become scams and practice a strategy of dipping a few billion in while the scam is still pretending to be legit then grabbing the money and interest back before it explodes. And covering this by diversity.

    The motivation for investing is partly the financial reward but also partly the entertainment, the cat and mouse game of scamming the scammers.

    I don’t think that’s very like how real world investment works where most collapses aren’t intended.

    It’s a flaky unhelpful parallel. You may as well say real world banking systems can learn a lot from that time in Enid Blyton’s stories where they all pool their lunch money to buy a kite.

    • Tesh says:

      And yet, the “lender of last resort” or the government backstop is a significant part of what makes inflation and bad investment possible. Just look at Freddie and Fannie, or the AIG mess. EVE may not be a good model of the real world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s useless. We could learn from it.

      • Stabs says:

        We could learn from tossing I ching sticks onto a mat and looking at the patterns.

        What game players do with Monopoly money really doesn’t parallel what pension fund managers do with our savings. Thinking that these are the same things because of superficial similarities is dangerous.

        For one thing there’s the multiplicity of middlemen. The vast majority of capital invested on stock markets originates with people who have almost no control over day to day investment choices. I have four pensions and I’ve barely glanced at where my money’s been put since I opened them, in some cases decades ago.

        Next knowing it’s not real makes a huge difference to the way people behave. People will throw isk at something just to be a dick, people get into market pvp in a way that is highly unusual with real money.

        There’s every chance that if we attempt to learn from Eve we will learn wrong. Studying apples might help you understand oranges but it might also promote dangerously misleading fallacies.

    • Gordon says:

      I take your point about drawing comparisons between things that are totally unrelated but I reckon Gudmundsson’s point was that because he has absolute transparency and can overview every single transaction in EVE, he can see trends and problems as they emerge and before they become hugely problematic. Although likely impossible to replicate in RL, it does make wonder that a lot of the current economic issues could have avoided had some global body or agency been able to watch what was happening, as it was happening.

  5. And the funny thing is that as news of the theft spread, many of the bank’s customers rushed to remove their virtual cash.

  6. Gravity says:

    I enjoyed that game a lot. I’ve a guide to it which needs a maintainer, by the way! Hammer’s Eve.

  7. I always fought that one of the systems that CCP uses for Eve Online would most likely be very useful in real life too. This is not that suprising really.

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