26 August 2011

Human-Currency Interaction: Learning from Virtual Currency Use in China

Yang Wang and Scott Mainwaring, 
“Human-Currency Interaction”: Learning from Virtual Currency Use in China, 
CHI 2008
  • 50 semi-structured interviews on the use of RMT in China during Summer 2007. Respondents of all ages, playing WoW, Mir2, MapleStory ,Second Life and others.
  • Gateway currency = legally convert real money into IG time or currency: Q coin, WoW 66-hour play card. Game-specific currency = in-game gold.
  • Realness: students and young professionals consider gateway and game-specific currencies as both virtual and real. For older adults, the currencies are purely and solely virtual. Virtual currencies are dishonest, they are masquerading as an innocuous, too-easy-to-spend plaything, while in fact they represent a lot.
  • Trust: face-to-face cash transactions. Need to meet sellers/buyers in person to be sure they are doing their part => meet in a wang ba, both avatars and human beings face each other. Online trusted third-parties require credit card => not for kids. Face-to-face = hassle, but it's also fun to meet IRL other players.
  • Account sharing: Pros = with friends, try other characters. Cons = they can steal your stuff, you give them the password you use in many other applications, including RL ones (e.g. email). How to allow account sharing without compromising player security and privacy?
  • Fairness: small buyers ($10/month in RMT) find unfair that some players can spend 10-100 times more than them. Buying from other players is felt as less unfair, and seems to alter the game balance less, than buying from the game company.

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