Is it far fetched to believe that an online video game about spaceships trading supplies and being raided by bounty hunters where every person you see is a virtual avatar of a real person can simulate an actual working economy? Well according to the 500,000 current active players, there is an $18 million economy managed and manipulated by the game’s virtual inhabitants. The most fascinating thing about Eve is how it is a space where economists can monitor and experiment on a real working system and see how changes are affecting the community.
This means Eve’s simulated universe can mimic and reflect our own economic situations and the active community members can trial new solutions. For example, after the 2008 economic crash, there has been a movement to change how currency is calculated to have value – one solution being the introduction of ‘cryptocurrency’ (Bitcoin). Eve provides a simulation of a monitored currency (named ISK) that is controlled by the central bank, this means the value of the currency changes depending on player trends – the supply is fixed and fixed to the creation of economic value. Interestingly, if a mining mineral becomes rare, its value will increase which suggests this presents an opportunity to simulate the future of oil prices in the real world.
Audiences have also shaped the game’s economy, much like the real world, through war! The ‘Bloodbath of B-R5RB caused the destruction of 11 trillion ISK worth of spaceships, this hit the economy hard. Economists equated this to around $300,000 in real money that was consumed in battle! However the main difference in this situation was the fact that players would actively pay to play (and so inject more money into the economy) just to join in with the war.