Early cyberspace theorists predicted that the digital world would be a world of plenty. But today’s Internet users are faced with many kinds of artificially scarce virtual markers, from online game items and digital currencies to likes and followers on social media and reward points in question and answer sites. Many such markers are traded online for significant sums of money and have spawned entire cottage industries for their production. Vili Lehdonvirta, author of Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis (MIT Press 2014, with Edward Castronova), argues that these “virtual economies” shape digital media in important ways, and that understanding them is vital for both practitioners and scholars of digital media and entertainment.
In this session, Lehdonvirta will also discuss and debate with economist Greg Taylor about what virtual economies could teach traditional national economies and the economists who run them.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The discussion will be followed by book signing and a drinks reception.
About the speakers
Dr Greg Taylor is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and an associate member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Southhampton. His research focuses on the microeconomics of marketplaces that exist on, or are mediated by the Internet. He is an expert on issues related to competition policy, competitive behaviour in online industries, and market design.
Dr Vili Lehdonvirta is an economic sociologist and Reseach Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. His research focuses on the social, technical, and institutional underpinnings of online markets. During and after postgraduate studies, he worked at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, Waseda University, University of Tokyo, and London School of Economics. Before his academic career, he worked as a game programmer. Recognized as an expert on virtual currencies and game economies, he has advised companies and organizations in Europe, United States, and Japan, including Rovio (Angry Birds) and the World Bank.