GDC 2009: Eyjo Gudmundsson - Eve Online Economist

Eyjo Gudmundsson - Eve Online Economist

The Escapist speaks with economist Eyjo Gudmundsson about Eve Online's economy vs. the real world economy.

Watch Video

Some interesting stuff.
I wonder though, how much of the difference between the economy of Eve and the economy of our real world comes not from government intervention but from the simple facts that:

1. You can't starve in Eve.
2. Nobody is genetically better suited to some professions than others.
3. Death ain't permanent.

The first concept is critically important because it pulls a lot of emotion out of the decision making process. Since that is inherently part of our nature, to suggest then that the Eve deregulated model is akin to what we'd see when real lives and the threat of hunger was on the line really doesn't seem very applicable.

The second concept is of course important because of the nature of specialization. In Eve, everybody starts out exactly as capable as anybody else. Which means that any particular lacks in the market have nothing to do with natural ability. Yet as we all know, some people simply are able to do certain things better than others in the real world.

And of course the third point is very important because, as far as I've been able to see, economic differences in Eve are more likely to lead to war than they are here. No doubt were death permanent, people would be a lot more reluctant to push forward for the "ultimate solution" to an economic grievance. This also tends to adjust the economy -- people are more willing to get along or simply let things go in the real world.

Anyhoo, the point of all this is that while Eve certainly has some aspects of the real economy, thinking we can learn much from it about the real economy seems a bit foolhardy.

Also, the technology in Eve is fixed, right? (I don't play so ain't sure) So basically, you don't get the uncertainy that you do with the real world. Further, is there a banking/loaning system in Eve?

See those are what I don't want from a game... I like adventure and guns, fire explosions and other manly things. Eve is (this has been said before) more of a second job. I want an adventure from a game, two examples would be Mass effect and Half life. What I don't want is finacial bull, still a game having its own economy is impresive, sadly it seems to put me to sleep rather than draw me in...

Kwil:
Some interesting stuff.

The second concept is of course important because of the nature of specialization. In Eve, everybody starts out exactly as capable as anybody else. Which means that any particular lacks in the market have nothing to do with natural ability. Yet as we all know, some people simply are able to do certain things better than others in the real world.

People who are smart in real life, are smart in Eve. People who are dumb in real life, are most likely dumb in Eve.(Although there are hardly any dumb people who play Eve)

*This is a story a friend of mine who plays the game very much told me, so it may not be accurate on details*
A group of guys from a corp(Clan) infiltrated another corp, by joining their ranks as regular members. It took them months to do so properly, but in the end, they robbed the other corp and stormed off with valuable ships and loot.
Smart people in real life do smart things. Smart people in Eve do smart things.

Also, like any RPG, each player can take a role, and act accordingly, mine or be a fighter or whatever you want to do. Be a banker if you want, it's all up to you.
Some people are good miners. Some people or groups are good fighters. There is a difference in skills in this game from player to player. So you can have a good guy, helping people, or a bad guy, that tricks and robs you. Just like in real life.

Do you play Eve? I ask because you don't seem to understand how open this game is...

This may not be the real world in a box with space ships. But this is the most realistic SIMULATION, of a real life economy. Like Eyjo said, it's like an experiment. And like all experiments, it is fixed and controlled. But only to the point that the experiment is actually valid.

"The first concept is critically important because it pulls a lot of emotion out of the decision making process. Since that is inherently part of our nature, to suggest then that the Eve deregulated model is akin to what we'd see when real lives and the threat of hunger was on the line really doesn't seem very applicable."

Assuming you are a gamer, you should know that there is just as much emotion and such in video games, as in real life.
The hunger point has not much to do with economy. He is talking about western economy from a digital stand point, not the hunger that may come with it...

"And of course the third point is very important because, as far as I've been able to see, economic differences in Eve are more likely to lead to war than they are here. No doubt were death permanent, people would be a lot more reluctant to push forward for the "ultimate solution" to an economic grievance. This also tends to adjust the economy -- people are more willing to get along or simply let things go in the real world."

Ummm, no? This is a game, that the players of the game almost control. Hate they have in the real world is of course there in the game. The player is human, in-game as he is human in real life.
And as for the "People are more willing to get along..." Have you ever opened a book containing something called HISTORY? Hate is more powerful than the need for food.Some people in say Afghanistan live in holes inside mountains just so that they can fight the enemy. Other people send their children into coffee shops or whatever just so that they can blow themselves up for a fight or cause that is so old that no one remembers why they started fighting(Or causing... ?) in the first place.

Consider your argument misinformed.
For the record I'm not an Eve fan-boy. But I have at least played through the trial period and actually know something more than just what this video said in 5 minutes about a game that takes 5 days to understand the basics of the game.( And even from there on there is a LOT to learn )

"is there a banking/loaning system in Eve?"
There may not be a preset developer made "system" for loaning and banking. But I did know some basic "bankers". And like in any RPG, of course you can loan money, and take loans from other players, like in any RPG.
You can even buy insurance for your spaceship( Which is developer made (So it is a "system if you may)).

Skipid:

Assuming you are a gamer, you should know that there is just as much emotion and such in video games, as in real life.

Said as someone who hasn't yet experienced having to provide for their loved ones survival. Trust me. Games are an extremely pale comparison -- even when you're getting griefed.

The hunger point has not much to do with economy. He is talking about western economy from a digital stand point, not the hunger that may come with it...

See above. Our economy, ultimately, is based on those primal urges. Hunger. Security. Procreation. An economy not based on those fundamentals is as much a representation of a real economy as an animation cell of Bart Simpson is a representation of a real boy.

Ummm, no? This is a game, that the players of the game almost control. Hate they have in the real world is of course there in the game. The player is human, in-game as he is human in real life.
And as for the "People are more willing to get along..." Have you ever opened a book containing something called HISTORY? Hate is more powerful than the need for food.Some people in say Afghanistan live in holes inside mountains just so that they can fight the enemy. Other people send their children into coffee shops or whatever just so that they can blow themselves up for a fight or cause that is so old that no one remembers why they started fighting(Or causing... ?) in the first place.

Please. Have you been there? Have you spoken to the people? I've done rig-work over there, and the people there are like people everywhere. Few of them fight because of hate. Many of them fight because of fear. Fear that we'll take away the only crops they have right now (often opium poppies) and force them into a type of slavery. They're not fighting for hate, they're fighting for survival -- as far as they can see, if they don't fight, they'll die. So they make huge sacrifices among individuals hoping to gain something for their society.

Consider your argument misinformed.

I might, but not by what you've brought to the table.

About the only good point you made is that in-game they're as human as they are out of it. That's of course true, but to think that the Eve economy is any sort of model for what would happen in a real economy, as this professor seems to be suggesting, is clearly missing a lot of very important variables that drive our real economy.

Interesting. Since it's still just a game not everything hold true, but it's really quite nice to see a game market actually responding to all kinds of events in the game. Not just mayor patches bringing new content, but also large conflicts and territory changing hands etc.

Doug:
Also, the technology in Eve is fixed, right? (I don't play so ain't sure) So basically, you don't get the uncertainy that you do with the real world. Further, is there a banking/loaning system in Eve?

Yes, technically, although there are processes meaning the amount of technology available could theoretically fluctuate (blueprints to produce high tech stuff require invention), and availability also varies with region, as it's pretty much if a player isn't selling it there you can't get it.

And CCP add in more tech. Recently it's the T3 tactical cruisers.

Second, there are banks, but they are entirely player run. There are also lotteries, radio stations... all player run, without any prompting from CCP.

It's amazing at the same time as being ridiculous

Singing Gremlin:

Doug:
Also, the technology in Eve is fixed, right? (I don't play so ain't sure) So basically, you don't get the uncertainy that you do with the real world. Further, is there a banking/loaning system in Eve?

Yes, technically, although there are processes meaning the amount of technology available could theoretically fluctuate (blueprints to produce high tech stuff require invention), and availability also varies with region, as it's pretty much if a player isn't selling it there you can't get it.

And CCP add in more tech. Recently it's the T3 tactical cruisers.

Second, there are banks, but they are entirely player run. There are also lotteries, radio stations... all player run, without any prompting from CCP.

It's amazing at the same time as being ridiculous

I see about the technology - after all, technology is one of the things economics don't understand enough to model. But if Eve has them, its a non-issue of 'un-realism'.

As for banks, I see! Its impressive, certainly. Although of course, there is no government sponsored backup scheme, as the video stated (in the real world, governments usually insure the cash in them so the customers won't lose out if the bank implodes).

As for radio and lotteries, I'm not actually all that surprised.

I did try EVE once, but I didn't get to grips with it and stopped playing only a day into the trial.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here