Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games

By Edward Castronova | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The ideas in this book emerged during a stressful time in my professional and personal life; thus while it’s often difficult for an author to thank everyone who has helped make a collection of ideas into a manuscript, it’s impossible in my case. The conversation going on these days about our future life in cyberspace is open-ended, and occurs in blogs, gamer websites, conference hallways, newspapers, hotel elevators, wedding receptions, you name it. If you’ve ever shared a bit of your thoughts with me about the synthetic world, whether it was a game you were playing, a business idea you had, or a prediction about the future, I am grateful you did so. Without those conversations, this book would have been impossible to write.

I’ve had the fortune of working on the book in two excellent academic departments. Most of it was completed while I was working at California State University, Fullerton, where I would like to thank chairs of the Economics Department David Wong and Stewart Long, as well as the dean of the College of Business and Economics, Anil Puri. They enthusiastically supported what must have seemed, at first, quite an odd project. I’d also like to thank CSUF’s lawyer, security personnel, and the internal review office for helping me deal with an early threat to the project in the form of an anonymous and threatening cease-and-desist phone call (which we traced to Sweden of all places). The manuscript was completed while I was working at Indiana University, where I would like to thank the chair of the Department of Telecommunications, Walter Gantz, as well as Herb Terry, Elena Bertozzi, and my first research assistant, Byungho Park, for making the transition as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

Thinking of the early stages of the project, I’d like to thank the 3,619 EverQuest players who took my survey for their honest responses, and the site Everlore.com for publicizing the survey and the resulting working paper. It was the fanbase of EverQuest that first began reading the paper and passing the URL on to others, generating a hit storm that eventually got the attention of New Scientist and Slashdot. My thanks to all those who took an interest in the paper in those early hours.

I’d like to thank those outside the video game industry who took an early interest in this research, and whose queries and invitations bolstered my conviction that the subject was important. In the area of defense and security research,

-ix-

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Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction: The Changing Meaning of Play 1
  • Part I - The Synthetic World: a Tour 27
  • 1: Daily Life on a Synthetic Earth 29
  • 2: The User 51
  • 3: The Mechanics of World-Making 79
  • 4: Emergent Culture: Institutions Within Synthetic Reality 100
  • 5: The Business of World-Making 126
  • Part II - When Boundaries Fade 145
  • 6: The Almost-Magic Circle 147
  • 7: Free Commerce 161
  • 8: The Economics of Fun: Behavior and Design 170
  • 9: Governance 205
  • 10: Topographies of Terror 227
  • 11: Toxic Immersion and Internal Security 236
  • Part III - Threats and Opportunities 247
  • 12: Implications and Policies 249
  • 13: Into the Age of Wonder 267
  • Appendix: A Digression on Virtual Reality 285
  • Notes 295
  • References 311
  • Index 319
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