The Economic and Religious Systems of Virtual Worlds

Apr 02, 2008Apr 03, 2008
Mercatus Center

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University presents a special Social Change Project Lecture: The Economic and Religious Systems of Virtual Worlds, a talk by William Bainbridge, adjunct professor at George Mason University. 

World of Warcraft is the most popular virtual world or massively multiplayer online game, with ten million subscribers, a billion dollars in annual income, and an internal economy of perhaps two billion dollars.  Its complex economy is based on both informal reciprocity (barter) and sophisticated markets including auction systems, but most importantly rests on the solidarity of cooperative social groups that are locked in combat with each other. In this talk, Professor Bainbridge will discuss the role that virtual worlds play as both laboratories for exploring abstract scientific concepts and as allegories for rethinking socio-economic relations in the outside world.

 Professor Bainbridge is the Director of the Social Informatics Program and Co-Director of Human-Centered Computing at the National Science Foundation, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He is currently an adjunct professor at George Mason University. He earned his BA in sociology from Boston University and his Ph.D in sociology from Harvard University.