Economics researchers are looking at virtual worlds to study how regulation, or the lack of it, affects online societies. Indeed, one question raised in a recent online forum on stock exchanges in Second Life posed whether market regulation is a positive or negative force.
Indiana University’s Castronova suggests that the creation of multiple virtual economies would give researchers a tool to study the effects of different regulatory policies. For instance, he says, “A set of 100 synthetic worlds, each with a simple but slightly different set of central bank institutions, will evolve in ways that tell us something about how simple differences in central bank structures can affect money, prices, production, and social inequality.”
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