1993-10-12 - Re: Virtual City (tm) and Virtual Capitalism

Header Data

From: Stanton McCandlish <mech@eff.org>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: dbbc979d85e8c362915ba7d552586092d3ddde8cbb0c4245575f22e747ed0fe2
Message ID: <199310122006.AA04422@eff.org>
Reply To: <Pine.3.05.9310101713.A26661-b100000@crl.crl.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-10-12 20:06:50 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 12 Oct 93 13:06:50 PDT

Raw message

From: Stanton McCandlish <mech@eff.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 93 13:06:50 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Virtual City (tm) and Virtual Capitalism
In-Reply-To: <Pine.3.05.9310101713.A26661-b100000@crl.crl.com>
Message-ID: <199310122006.AA04422@eff.org>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>   I'm still not clear as to exactly what MUD money would purchase. In a MOO,
> such as MediaMOO or BayMOO, I can't conceive of what anyone could "buy"

Well, this is true of MOOs in general but not MUDs most of which are D&D-style
combat games, wherein virtual money already plays a strong role; many
muds have banks, which have fees, interest rates, etc., and loan sharks
abound.  RL money does not come into it, and barter is usually quite

I agree that the whole idea is rather trivial, but it would seem to be a
good test, at least: see if MUDdom will cooperate enough to have a
networked form of MUDbucks.  I don't think most MUDs would go for the
players being able to buy power(s) outright, but goods should not be a
problem.  Anyway, the difference between the typical MOO and typical MUD
community is very great in many ways and it doesn't do to conflate them.

>   Any system of monetary exchange that would involve manipulating quotas,
> or translating them into a kind of tradeable commodity would, I think, be
> vigorously resisted by most MOO wizards. "I'll help you code that virtual
> Harley if you'll pay me two quota" would be antithetical to the whole
> spirit of cooperation I've seen in most (though not all) MOOs. In
> addition, it would be an ironic commentary on the old cyberpunk
> "Information should be free!" if Joe/Jane MOOwhiz sets up shop as a
> for-hire expert in coding, amassing virtual capital off of newbies.

The capitalists here probably think that's a great idea, though the LPF
fans here would disagree.  This strikes me as remarkably similar to a BBS-
based idea that went around for a while, to have BBSbucks, that one could
spend to get online time on any participating BBS.  One got the bucks by
uploading to file oriented boards, posting on msg. oriented boards, etc.  Of
course, sysops in general slammed the idea, since it was immediately
obvious to most of them that people would manipulate the less popular and
more open (by necessity) boards.  People would call some newbie board, and
upload garbage to it, knowing that the sysop would not say much about it,
being in the process of trying to get new users and keep them, then take
the electricash to the popular boards.  If one looks at BBSs like
countries, it would be as if they were 3rd world nations being farmed for
their cheap resources and labour, and all the money goes out of the
country to the Big Empires.

> future monetary transactions on a global scale. And if, as part of your
> post suggests, RL money would be gratefully paid for increased power
> within a MUD -- shades of *Snow Crash*! And who would have guessed that
> it was cypherpunks in executive clothing that brought such a system into
> the MUD/MOO world.

Well, one can remove the necessity, for now, that RL money be paid.  What
then is the real objection?  I can see nothing keeping the idea from working.
As for the RL for digicash scenario, well *I* wouldn't play, having better
things to waste money on, but if some will, why not?  Why should MUD
programmers and site providers have to do it all for free, while their
game-programming counterparts in the online services rake in good salaries?

At times I shudder to think what it's costing in bandwidth to keep all
these NeTrek players going, night and day.  Make them PAY a little for it
(not much, but enough that they notice), place the financial burden where
it belongs. 

Note: my commentary on MUD/MOO practices dates from 92, so it may be
outdated by this point, seeing how fast that virtcom changes. 

-=> mech@eff.org <=-
Stanton McCandlish     Electronic Frontier Foundation Online Activist & SysOp
NitV-DC BBS 202-232-2715, Fido 1:109/? IndraNet 369:111/1, 14.4V32b 16.8ZyX