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Valve hires economist to manage economies around its games

Economics professor Yanis Varoufakis has joined the Valve team

Valve Software now has a resident economics expert to help manage virtual economies around its games. Similar to Eve Online, which back in 2007 brought on Eyjolfur Guomundsson to advise it on in-game economics, professor Yanis Varoufakis will now oversee the economies around Valve's titles and will also conduct a fair amount of experimentation.

Professor Varoufakis explained in a blog post how he got the job. As it turns out, Gabe Newell had been reading Varoufakis' blog about the economic imbalance between Germany and Greece, and Newell decided to reach out.

"We are running into a bunch of problems as we scale up our virtual economies, and as we link economies together. Would you be interested in consulting with us?" Newell said in an email to Varoufakis.

"I have been following your blog for a while… Here at my company we were discussing an issue of linking economies in two virtual environments (creating a shared currency), and wrestling with some of the thornier problems of balance of payments, when it occurred to me 'this is Germany and Greece', a thought that wouldn't have occurred to me without having followed your blog. Rather than continuing to run an emulator of you in my head, I thought I'd check to see if we couldn't get the real you interested in what we are doing."

Even though Varoufakis isn't a gamer and knew little about the world of video games, he became intrigued and soon accepted a position. The Valve blog linked above will now essentially become a Valve Economics blog. "I shall be committing to this blog weekly reports on our projects, experiences and ideas regarding Valve's various social 'economies'," Varoufakis stated.

[Thanks to the BBC]

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Latest comments (1)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Makes great sense. Virtual economies can be bigger and more complex than real economies. Games like Runescape and WoW have a bigger player base than the population of many countries.

There are a lot of academic skills required in video gaming, from physics through to statistics and psychology. Our products are often far more complex than real world tangible products.
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