When does research become meaningful?

I mean, is it even possible to answer that question. I dunno. This comes back, of course, to my MMO-related economics projects. One of the pieces of feedback that’s stuck with me a bit is the statement, “I don’t see why I should care.” I think, to the non-gamer, that’s a very valid opinion. Why should you care if it has no real bearing on society at large or at least helps us understand economics as a science?

Perhaps my thoughts have simply turned on themselves, but when I read about something like the ongoing economic woes of Lebanon, it makes my project seem… irrelevant. How can I justify the idea of devoting large amounts of time to MMO-related research when there are real problems causing real suffering?

It’s a bit larger than that too, though. Lending plays such a large part of a modern economy, but it approaches entirely absent in online gaming. There are a number of reasons for that, lack of contract enforcement being the biggest. Why should you loan Rustled Jimmy the paladin gold when you know that he’s probably not good for and you just have to eat the loss. The interest rates and/or collateral you would need to make this profitable is probably on par with payday loans. Maybe higher.

Is a sans-finance economy comparable enough to a real one to be of value? I don’t know. It would need more research. I’ve been trying to come up with a plan to test that.

Of course, having said all that, I do believe that answering these questions is useful in its own right. Even if MMOs are not a valuable avenue of research, having determined this will allow me, and hopefully others, to allocate our efforts more efficiently.

Okay, I need to chugg off and occupy myself before I sink further into this hole.

Y’all take care, especially if you’re in Lebanon. If not, send them some food or something. They seem to be in rough shape over there.

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