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Valve economist Varoufakis: Studying game economies is crucial
Valve economist Varoufakis: Studying game economies is crucial
May 7, 2014 | By Christian Nutt




"In a video game world, all the data are there. It's like being God, who has access to everything and to what every member of the social economy is doing."
- economist Yanis Varoufakis on the appeal of studying game economies

In a new interview with political magazine Reason, economist Yanis Varoufakis explains in detail why studying Valve's in-game economies -- something he did for the company between 2012 and 2013 -- is not simply fascinating. He argues that not only could it affect how economists look at the way economies work -- it should dramatically change their thinking.

It's a rare possibility, Varoufakis says, to gain a complete understanding of an economy's function without using models to stand in for data: "... in the video game world, we economists have a smidgen of an opportunity to conduct controlled experiments on a real, functioning macroeconomy. And that may be a scientific window into economic reality that we've never had access to before," he says.

The full interview with Varoufakis is well worth reading.


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Comments


George Blott
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He talked a bit about this, and lots on the culture at Valve in a recent Econtalk podcast as well. If you liked the article linked above this is worth a listen for sure.
http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/02/varoufakis_on_v.html

Dare Man
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Interesting read, thanks for the link. When it comes to Valve, I am still amazed how well and quickly Steam Trading Cards caught on.
We know different armies are using games for training, I predict a bunch of economics researchers will soon be joining Steam gaming to study economic models.

Alex Covic
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It takes economists to read about it and understand about the opportunities they are missing?

Games allow for realtime data of consumers, tracking behavior, changing parameters, experimenting, exploring. Every marketing firm and every system researcher would kill for access to such levels of quality data, but most of them are not aware of this as a legitimate playground?

Greg Scheel
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They still think video games are for kids, they are dummies.


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