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Is Diablo III Turning Virtual Economies Into Real Ones? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

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Published on Sep 19, 2012

The U.S. economy may be in the dumps, but you can find solace in the fact that your Second Life avatar is living the life of the 1%. But what if the virtual economies of video games could be transferred to the real world? We're actually already seeing this in Diablo 3, where axes, swords, and other awesome gear have taken on real world value at the Diablo 3 Auction House. People are buying and selling them with real US dollar bills!!!!!! The idea that a collection of pixels can be sold for actual money might be confusing to some, as they are neither true "objects" you can hold nor "ideas" that can be considered intellectual property. But despite the lack of tangibility, real world economies have formed around these games and real world profits are being made.

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Music:
Roglok http://vimeo.com/musicstore/track/21169
EatMe http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/3483...
Diablo 3 Soundtrack - Overture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy31Kw...
Derezzed 8bit http://soundcloud.com/toms94/derezzed...

Angry Video Game Nerd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYDuy7...
Toast Patent: http://www.google.com/patents/US6080436
$32,000 Golf Clubs: http://www.gorillagolfblog.com/equipm...

Want some more Idea Channel?

Here's last week's episode: "Is Facebook Changing Our Identity?" http://youtu.be/WRiGZJQZ_X4

Want another one? Here ya go: "Is Homestuck the Ulysses of the Internet?" http://youtu.be/MLK7RI_HW-E

You want more? Check this one out: "Is William Gibson A Modern Day Oracle?" http://youtu.be/kWeWBnRwjnw

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Comments • 1,411

chris11sholtz
real world money? you mean our currency that mostly exists in cyberspace already?
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ConfusedLadyKira
Well, the basis of capitalism is: if you have something some one else wants, you can exchange for something you want, i.e. money
Hippowatamus
who needs money when you have hats
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Ethan Garcia
have u seen teamfortress2?i luckily unboxed an unusual and sold it for 55$
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Sameinaður Norðurlöndin
You could have gone more into EVE Online, the economy actually is very complex, a lot of gameplay involves spreadsheets and planning actual mining operations planned by player run corporations. The game serves as a very interesting simulation of a free market economy. The developers hired real world economists to keep the game's economy balanced. It's extremely cutthroat because you can be attacked by other players which could completely destroy hours and hours of work and organization. There are corporations who will assassinate other corporation leaders for ISK. They can sometimes earn over fifteen thousand dollars worth of in game currency. There are even massive scams, one infamous case is where a player started a bank for players to deposit ISK and to take out loans. The bank actually grew to be very large with several players who were bankers and the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of real world currency was stored there. The owner of the bank actually took all of the ISK and ran off with it.
Tursi
First Golden Frying Pan from TF2 sold on the steam market for 5.5 Thousand Dollars. The interesting thing about this is that the pan gives no actual leverage in-game, meaning that you're literally buying the item just to have it, not to be better than other players.
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Daniel Hale
+PBS Idea Channel  With the Diablo III store closed, but Valve's item economy (hats!) still running under different rules (and many other economies), how have your ideas on this changed?
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Genuine Anger
Cough TF2 Cough
GodOfThe Wolves
Do you own the items uhhh no the maker of the game owns the items. But since we put the work into getting them we half own it. so should we be able to sell it for real cash? Uhhh yes and no. I would say what I mean but it would take hours :P
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Jānis Sparinskis
Lol, I actualy pressed the subscibe button with my eyes closed.
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