Job markets in everything

by on August 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm in Economics, Games, Web/Tech | Permalink

Economy Designer:

It’s the economy, stupid! Drive players to invest in our game economy by analyzing the subtleties of behavioral economics and pondering the pitfalls of specialization and free trade. Theorize why people make irrational economic choices and use the tricks you’ve learned to ensure players only make the irrational choices you want them to. Create an economic system that will fulfill a player’s needs just as much as shooting an alien in the face.

The Economy Designer at Bungie will develop a robust and rewarding game economy that drives player behavior toward intended goals and validate those systems through intense simulation, testing and iteration. You’ll design the systems and mechanics which drive in-game trade, satisfy the players’ need for possessions and wealth whilst ensuring rewards retain their intended value despite attempts to exploit or grief the system. You will determine what data is necessary to mine, ensure we have all of the hooks necessary to gather that data, and come up with all of the interesting metrics and questions we should ask of that data. You will run simulations of these mechanics based on expected player behavior and test these simulated results against actual player behavior; tuning the live system accordingly.

1 db August 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Its funny, but this is really important to the success of many multiplayer games. World of Warcraft for instance has an economy based around useful in game items that players create as members of different professions. Its interesting to note that in a game economy you want to maximize fun, which is not necessarily the same as maximizing efficiency. World of Warcraft uses a number of smart tricks that create economic rents for players. This drives up the costs for in game items but makes the gameplay rewarding for a larger number of players. A more efficient economy would produce skyrocketing inequality and make the game much less fun to play.

2 Bill August 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Isn’t there an economist in one of the Northern European countries who studies people’s behaviour in these economic games. I know I’ve read about this.

3 asdf August 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

CCP Games has hired an economist solely to study the economy of EVE Online. You may be thinking of him.

4 yyl August 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

On the contrary: it’s actually inefficiencies what allows some people to get a lot of ingame gold by playing the AH: for example, the fact that some crafted items cost more than the materials required to craft them allows players to arbitrage the market and make money without effort. Why this arbitraging doesn’t drive this price gap to zero, I don’t know. Perhaps only a handful of players are interested in this.

An efficient MMO economy wiuld be one in which every farming/crafting activity yielded the same income/hour, adjusting for player skill, intrinsic fun, effort needed and risk. Which I don’t think it’s currently the case in World of Warcraft, though I haven’t studied it on detail.

5 Bill August 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Don’t credit card companies already do this:

Help “people make irrational economic choices and use the tricks you’ve learned to ensure players only make the irrational choices you want them to.”

6 celestus August 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Markets in markets.

7 jpmeyer August 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This is actually really important because left to its own devices, MMO’s have an ever expanding money supply (kill monster, get gold ad infinitum) that can cause the game’s economy to go into hyperinflation if it’s not carefully maintained through game mechanics.

8 Tangurena August 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Not all MMO games do a good job of keeping the “economy” reasonably balanced. An out-of-whack risk-vs-reward system results in people scripting and farming items, and this is generally what leads to “gold farming”. Only catching up to things after they blow up is something that leads to crazy over-corrections by the folks running the game. These over-reactions are generally called “nerfs” and tend to result in a lot of bad-will with the player base. Everquest had a long history of this sort of problem.

Eve is one of the better games for tracking the in-game economy. It looks like Bungie wants to follow CCP’s lead.

For an interesting take on game economics by someone who plays WOW, check out Greedy Goblin:

9 Former Beltway Wonk August 6, 2011 at 12:46 am

s. A more efficient economy would produce skyrocketing inequality and make the game much less fun to play.

The economics here are like the economics internal to sports leagues. They have a number of mechanisms like the draft to level the playing field to keep it fun.

10 David Mershon August 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

The curious task of video games is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

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