Currency based on Joules (game design, real? Neverwinter)

This is another aide memoire, sorry – it’s going to be a blob (its a tl:dr this one)

Hmm my NBI pic got lost – another little task to deal with.

Economic models work best with some absolute so you can measure things – I like to call that value. The joule is fine as an absolute unit of value, it relates time, energy and matter in splendidly various ways (remember I’m talking models here for now).  While value remains static and absolute, price (money in units)  fluctuates with every input under the sun, “supply and demand” – people do know that one, but a load of things can affect price – “novelty”, “whatever it is about the mona lisa”, “health scares””demon governments”, you name it.  Price does however have a natural and concrete limit in it’s own terms (ie measured in money) – that being how much people/collectives can spend.

How much people/collectives can spend includes borrowing (and here we are!). The “how much people/collectives can spend” limiter is also chaotically affected by currency fluctuations. Money, as a unit, is horribly open to abuse.  For as start it’s totally imaginary and as a finale it doesn’t relate to anything.  Even if everyone can keep straight on what they imagine money is worth, there is never any way of knowing. Trying to tie money to something real hasn’t worked too well so far, it’s an obvious thing to try though and probably worth another go, this time, using an absolute rather than a resource. The world could try using the joule as a unit – I do, it gives me a firm base and yardstick for measuring value in real. It’s not perfect, but it automatically takes care of any time/distance/temperature… – actually it’s quite useful in a lot of ways – factors that otherwise would end up in the already crowded space occupied by “things that affect price”.  (There might be someone else out there who already thought of using joules as an absolute currency value, I’m not desperately keen to claim a first – (let me know, I’d be interested how it turned out)).

In game worlds matter and energy are somewhat malleable (you can build/destroy, travel fast/slow without usual physical limits)  so it would be time that could provide the absolute factor on which currency could be based. Doing that means I can use a much simpler model, which would be easier to audit. Neverwinter has a really interesting currency structure in which time has value and which uses ceilings and floors to limit currency fluctuation.  You can input real money or real time into their model – it’s quite clever really. And their floor/ceiling values are nice controls that compensate for price fluctuation. They’ve added other currencies which add variety and extra control and that tells me someone thought about all this in some depth. It’s got that joy factor too (oooh lets add a few more doohickeys!! ) Well, it’s nice thing – lovely model for a game.  And it seems to be working for them, which I’m glad about because it’s so cute.

P.s. In real life price can be overturned by use of force  (i.e.don’t bother paying, just take it), so given that we use imaginary money and given that force can be used to take things: law is us agreeing what is permissible.  Adherence to the rule of law underpins the economy as well as our efforts to be civilised.  Games have rules, so that bit fits ok, except the rules are usually applied top down, the devs make them up.

Well,I suppose someone could try player-made rules, but it won’t be me 🙂

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