# August 2003

- A potential best-seller?
*Richard A. Bartle* - Identifying Players
*Scion Altera* - Identifying Players
*Crosbie Fitch*

- Identifying Players
- Metrics for assessing game design
*David Kennerly* - ADMIN: Crunch thread
*J C Lawrence* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Alex Chacha* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*Katie Lukas* - Mapping real money into MUD money
*David Kennerly*Katie Lukas wrote:

> Julian Dibbell also has an excellent site about the translation of

> virtual economic systems into cold hard cash, which he (and

> others) do as a living. http://www.juliandibbell.com/

Julian got another article about that recently:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3135247.stm

<EdNote: Below>

--<cut>--

Making money from virtually nothing

DOT.LIFE - how technology changes our lives

By Mark Ward

BBC News Online technology correspondent

Can you make a real living buying and selling goods which only exist

in the virtual world of an online fantasy game?

Many thousands of people make a very good living writing, creating

and running computer games.

Rather fewer people earn a wage playing games professionally by

taking the top cash prizes at tournaments around the world.

But Julian Dibbell is not trying to support himself, wife and

daughter by programming or playing.

Instead in April 2004, he will declare to the US Internal Revenue

Service that his main source of income is the sale of imaginary

goods.

Game gear

Mr Dibbell is buying and selling virtual cash, weapons, armour,

homes and other artefacts from the Ultima Online game for Earth

money from his home in San Francisco.

Many players of massively popular multiplayer online role-playing

games such as Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Star Wars

Galaxies, make a little cash on the side by selling some of the

things they find while adventuring in these virtual worlds.

But Mr Dibbell is turning this occasional trading into a fulltime

occupation. He is, as he puts it, trying to get rich by literally

"selling castles in the air".

People began adventuring in Britannia - the world of Ultima Online -

in 1997, which makes it the most venerable graphical game on the

web.

It has more than 225,000 active players, who spend up to 20 hours

per week in Britannia.

The game has a broad fantasy setting, familiar to anyone who knows

Tolkien. Players can choose a life of adventure or a more sedate or

sedentary occupation such as weaver, weaponsmith or tailor.

Mr Dibbell had good reasons for picking Ultima Online for his

virtual business empire.

"I was playing the game every spare chance I could. Finally, I

thought I should figure out some proper reason to do this before my

wife pulled the plug."

Britannia also has a well established economy and is not prone to

the deflation and economic surges that seem to be afflict other game

worlds.

Mr Dibbell says that the trading system in Britannia is engineered

to make it hard for someone to hand over cash and get nothing in

return.

Trial run

Also Origin, the makers of Ultima, are happy for the trading to go

on. Other games, such as EverQuest, have tried to ban sales of

artefacts and characters with varying degrees of success.

To see if the idea of making a living by selling artefacts would

work at all, Mr Dibbell set himself the task of making $1,000 of

Ultima Online trades in three weeks - while his wife and daughter

were away.

He made it with only minutes to spare.

And now it has become his job.

A typical day starts with a check of the places on the net where

money, artefacts and even property in Ultima Online are traded.

He looks to see if anyone is giving a good price for what he has to

sell or something he knows he can get from other people.

Sites such as eBay, Player Auctions and Tradespot list items,

characters and player accounts for sale.

The amounts being traded are huge. Figures collected by economist

Edward Castronova show that the total dollar value of what is being

traded, excluding EverQuest items, runs into the millions.

Mr Dibbell has become an itinerant merchant wandering the land of

Britannia seeking out gold and other goods to sell.

"I've discovered that there is a food chain and the producers are at

the bottom and the merchants are at the top," he says.

"The producers are the teenage kids that have a lot of time on their

hands but no money so they go out and hunt and loot and craft and

produce the stuff that I am buying and selling," he says.

Dodgy deals

Mr Dibbell is also acting as an in-game representative for a

well-established trader who regularly asks him to find objects on

his behalf.

This "Mr Big" is one of a handful of Ultima players who make six

figure sums annually from their trades.

They manage to do this because they are well-known, trustworthy and

have amassed huge amounts of in-game goodies.

Big money can be made when buying an Ultima account of a long-term

player who has got bored of the system and the work involved in

keeping it going.

The account may be sold as a whole, but can generate much more by

breaking it up and selling the items, money and property

individually.

"You can double or triple your money on one account," says Mr

Dibbell.

But the buying and selling of virtual goods is not without real

ethical dilemmas or risks.

Mr Dibbell recently found he was acting as a fence for a very rare

stolen artefact that he could make a big, quick profit on.

He consulted Mr Big who declared that he had no problem with in-game

theft as there are many Britannia inhabitants who make a living as

rogues and footpads.

Mr Dibbell greatest fear is that he falls prey to real cyber

criminals who pillage his Ultima items or steals the cash from his

PayPal account.

With his livelihood gone, Mr Dibbell would have no doubt that a

crime had been committed but he realises that he might have a hard

time convincing the police to investigate the theft of goods that

have a tangible value but negligible reality.

--<cut>--

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*Matthew S. Ayres*

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*david.l.smith@mail-x-change.com* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
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*Andrew L. Tepper* - Reputation systems: a possible path for investigation
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*Richard A. Bartle*

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*Dave Rickey* - Slashdot story about review of Bartle's new book
*Marc Bowden*

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- The lack of Creativity and Beauty a game user
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*Derek Licciardi* - Artists and Copyrights
*Paolo Piselli* - Artists and Copyrights
*Marian Griffith* - Artists and Copyrights
*Paul Dahlke*

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*F. Randall Farmer* - Using Windows Scripting Host
*Karl Dyson* - Using Windows Scripting Host
*Tess Lowe*

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*Chris "Diamonds" Stewart*

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*vladimir cole* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Martin Bassie* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Craig H Fry* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature of Persistent Worlds?
*Matt Mihaly* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature ofPersistent Worlds?
*Michael Tresca* - When Will Player-Avatar Integrity Be a Feature ofPersistent Worlds?
*Baar - Lord of the Seven Suns*

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- [Fwd: Metrics for assessing game design]
*ceo* - Examine/Look
*Elia Morling* - Examine/Look
*Ammon Lauritzen* - Examine/Look
*Marc Bowden*

- Examine/Look
- Examine/Look
*Lars Duening* - Examine/Look
*Eamonn O'Brien*

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*ceo* - [BUS] Account-management systems
*Rayzam* - [BUS] Account-management systems
*Christopher Allen*

- [BUS] Account-management systems
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*Koster, Raph* - NCSoft yearly report
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*Norman Beresford* - MUD using the .net framework
*John Buehler* - MUD using the .net framework
*James F. Bellinger* - MUD using the .net framework
*Linder Support Team*

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- Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Koster, Raph* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Nicolai Hansen* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Daniel Anderson* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Kerry Fraser-Robinson*

- Virtual property lawsuit in China
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*Vladimir Cole* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Ren Reynolds* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*Nicolai Hansen* - Virtual property lawsuit in China
*ren@aldermangroup.com*

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- Virtual property lawsuit in China

- Virtual property lawsuit in China
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*Jeff Cole* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Jeremy Hill*

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*katie@stickydata.com* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Zach Collins {Siege}* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Ben Chambers* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Robert Zubek* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Kwon J. Ekstrom* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Kwon J. Ekstrom*

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*Freeman, Jeff* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Bernard Graham* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Koster, Raph* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Fidelio Gwaihir* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas*

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*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Martin Bassie* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Katie Lukas* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Matt Mihaly*

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*Koster, Raph* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Kwon J. Ekstrom* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Jeff Cole* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Paul Schwanz*

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*Pat Ditterline* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Oliver Smith*

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*Nicolai Hansen*

- Expected value and standard deviation.

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*Dark Lamenth* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Fidelio Gwaihir*

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*Ola Fosheim GrĂ¸stad* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Sheela Caur'Lir* - Expected value and standard deviation.
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*Ola Fosheim GrĂ¸stad*

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*Freeman, Jeff*

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*Matt Mihaly* - Expected value and standard deviation.
*Tom "cro" Gordon*

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