Friday, May 22, 2009

Online Virtual Economy Exchange Rates

A thought just occurred to me. There are a lot of online communities, many of them powered by their own currencies. Has anyone set up an exchange rate web site for those who want to travel to other virtual places.

A adventurer in Silk Road may want to buy a potion or a new sword, or maybe he wants to convert his holdings over to the currency of trade at some other online outpost he wishes to visit. Just like going over to the window at the airport and exchanging your dollar for pesos.

Obviously, it is an idea fraught with peril and ripe for abuse. You already have automatic gold collector bots that simply are programed for accumulating wealth to spend on items online.

Then again, plenty of marketplaces have cropped up with the notion that you need to tread carefully.

John D. Sutter and his article on CNN.com talks about the power of virtual currencies. He gives examples from "hi5" which uses hi5 coins, Linden Dollars from Second Life and WoW gold from World of Warcraft. He has some interesting thoughts about the problems that start to creep in to growing, functioning virtual currency markets that mimic our real world economy. Taxation, interest rates, and inflation for instance.

Still, I would love to see the exchange rate and marketplace between Second Life, WoW and Neopets. Just to get a sense of how we value each.

It might extend into the real world as well. I mean, you can buy virtual dollars with real dollar. If fact, given our use of credit and debit cards, aren't our real dollars virtual in many ways already. I think I have paid for 95% of my lattes over the last year with digital deductions as opposed to paper exchanges.

Maybe it would allow for another sub economy to arise as well. Morgan's Brain takes a look at possible local currency for Tacoma, with Beautiful Angle dollars and Stowe coins are given as examples. Heck, we already know the exchange rate for Stow coins. Fifty cents at the Red Hot.