|Slogan||Miniconomy, the online trade game|
|Type of site||MMOG|
|Available in||English, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, In Progress: Romanian (25%), Hindi (24%), Turkish (23%), Indonesian (22%)|
|Content license||Closed Source|
|Owner||Trade Games International BV|
|Created by||Wouter Leenards|
|Launched||1 January 2002|
Miniconomy (also called MC by players) is an online, browser based, economic and trade simulation game developed in the Netherlands. The game has over 139,000 registered players from 121 different countries that can play the game in English, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, German, French and Dutch. As of May 2014, 125 rounds have been completed. Miniconomy will start its 126th round on the 10th May, the shops has been redesigned to a newer and better version.
Miniconomy is free to play, but a premium membership is available. This membership allows for the creation of Miniconomy Ventures (MV) with which harbors, banks, and garages can be built, enables the player to start a political party, and gives the player personal smilies and colors on the forums (ingame incorporated as clubs) as well as twice the length of posts in clubs and unlimited number of lots that may be owned. Miniconomy is still developing certain aspects further and new features or adjustments are implemented on a regular basis.
- 1 History
- 2 General information
- 3 Game Structure
- 4 Community
- 5 Miniconomy in the classroom
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 See Also
- 9 External links
The idea for Miniconomy came in October 2001 when then computer science student Wouter Leenards started thinking about making a realistic trading simulation game. Together with his brother, Mark Leenards, he further developed the plan, and eventually created Miniconomy.
Supported by Mark and some friends, he developed the idea further. Mark, being a business administration student, focused on the economic aspects of the game, whereas Wouter did the programming. The result is a unique online game for everybody who is interested in trading, economics and games. The advantage of Miniconomy is that it can be played on your web browser, so with any internet connection; at home, in the office, at school or at a friend's house. The first public round of Miniconomy started on January 1, 2002.
The original idea, a game where economy is simulated, sprung from a combination of imagination and the strengths of other well known game concepts. In most games, however, trading and all its characteristics is not the key. In Miniconomy the trading is the key, and therefore has realistic situations. Monopolies, price fixing, shortage, threats, robbery and abuse of power occur. Nowadays there is even a political and social structure developed by the players that keeps the players together.
The first rounds were beta testing where bugs were found and loopholes were used to create imbalance in the game. However during this time, the game grew exponentially, reaching 2000 active players and 5000 activated accounts within the first 4 months. The fact that the game grew so quickly and that server costs were rising to facilitate the bandwidth for this increase in players, something needed to be thought of to make sure that the game wasn’t making big losses. To do this, a Premium Member system was developed. The benefits of this were at this time: a daily salary, entry to the Casino, the ability to post smiley’s and use color codes on the forums, the ability to start political parties, and the ability to start companies that could build harbors and banks.
At this time the brothers were frequently approached to ponder a way to apply the game in the school system, and so the brothers applied for different grants that existed for funding the creation of education systems. It wasn’t until they got the Digitale Pioneers grant, a temporary action program that is meant for innovative grass-root Internet initiatives. This fund gives financial and organizational support to small-scale grass root content communities that realize innovative projects in the public domain on the Internet, that they were able to make the Educational Manager, which allowed teachers to monitor the actions of students and give them the tools needed to accurately grade them.
In November 2005, Miniconomy decided to start actively targeting the international markets. To do this an international country was made inside the game where the official language was English and a complete translation of the game was made into English by a volunteer. The country has been growing, with besides a large number of Dutch players, also reaching 150 active players from the United States at the end of round 49 in January 2008.
As of today, February 2012, Miniconomy had nearly 9000 registered users from the USA, just over 3000 from the United Kingdom and a core of active Danish players, with nearly 300 registered accounts. The Dutch speaking community still is quite dominant in the statistics, with over 60 000 accounts registered from Belgium and the Netherlands. It should be noted that these figures handle registered accounts, not active accounts and that the actual number of active players per round averages around 1 000.
Everyone can start an account in Miniconomy. The player starts with 1000 I-Shell, (The Miniconomy Currency) 100 liters of gasoline and 10 skill points, which he can use to specialize in the production and sale of products. There is also a possibility to start a Miniconomy Corporation, an actual second, third, etc. business (only available when you are a PM member). You become a Premium Member by purchasing it via credits, a currency that can be purchased with real money.
Miniconomy has rounds which last 3 weeks, with 1 week breaks in between them allowing for new political positions to be chosen and for the implementation of new features by the Federals & Wouter (the actual game masters).
Miniconomy also has "special" trading rounds 1-2 times a year were traders are given certain tasks or goals to achieve. An Example of this is a round were the team with the most I-Shells wins .
The main part of Miniconomy is about trading. Players can choose to trade in 29 products and can get their turnover from intercity trade, intracity trade, international trade, and exports. Players can build shops in their hometown, buy shops in other cities or countries, and can dress these up with (animated) banners, increase the marketing so that their shop is more prominent on one of the streets, and add discounts for certain customers. At the end of the round the trade rankings, based on the net worth of players, are used to appoint a winner.
The game was launched in the Netherlands, and was initially only available to Dutch players; Miniconomy has a large number of European players compared to those of other continents. The Netherlands, Belgium and United States of America are the nations with the largest amount of players, but just recently, player totals in North America have known a steady growth, with nearly 10 000 registered users and several hundred active every round.
Miniconomy has four virtual countries: Cyberië, Digitalië, Ibisha and Virtua.
Cyberië is a Dutch-speaking country which has 4 cities and is run by a Parliament, ministers and President / Vice-President.
- Eurodam, the capital of Cyberië is a city where you can find all resources
- Kronenburg, known for its large amount of oil
- Roebelarendsveen, known for its iron ore supply
- Zwollar, known for its trees
Digitalië is also a Dutch-speaking country, but it is best known for its criminal activities. The most wanted criminals of Miniconomy live there and having Criminal Status makes one revered. Digitalië is ruled by a King who has absolute rule.
Digitalië has two cities:
- El Peso is the Digitalian town where you can find a lot of gold
- Monapoli is the capital of Digitalië and has a lot of diamonds.
Ibisha is the newest country and is a Spanish-speaking country which has only 1 city:
- Ibisha is the island in the center of the rivers that flow in between the other three countries. Ibisha is largely dependent on themselves when it comes to trade, but luckily the city has an abundance of resources. Ibisha is run by a President who is elected, however the current president has the right to remove others from the election, and is "always right" in everything he/she decides on.
The last country is called Virtua. Virtua is the newest discovered country, and completely English-speaking. It lies on the river bank of the DuKu and is the most southern country of the Federation. In the past, Virtua was especially known for its neutrality and its peaceful way of living. The country is governed by the President and his council, the council consists of the Vice-President and 2-8 Members who the President have appointed. Virtua is well known for its ban on guns, bombs, all of which can be used to harm other players, however Virtua has adopted Nasdaqar as a "City of Crime" were such products are allowed to be traded within its city limits.
Virtua is an English-speaking country which has 3 cities:
- Centropolis is geographically the biggest city of Virtua. Centropolis has one of the greatest oil fields in the Federation and due to its location towards other countries it is the most ideal place for a harbour.
- Cashington is about the same size as Nasdaqar. The city especially has a richness of ore. It possesses the biggest ore reserve of the country. Cashington has the geographical advantage of being close to both Centropolis and Nasdaqar, which makes it the ideal place to trade.
- Nasdaqar is a city which is particularly known for its forest, gold and diamonds and ever busy citizens. Nasdaqar is situated in the far corner of Virtua, but the local lumberjacks don't seem to have a problem with that. Where other cities lack trees as a natural resource, Nasdaqar has a natural richness and that works in their advantage.
Rookie Mountains is a country with one city.This city can be seen has the tutorial city:
- After creating an account in one of the cities from above, you can chose to follow a tutorial in the tutorial city Sans Francishco. The city is based on the land of Virtua.
There are 29 products in Miniconomy, which can be classified into five categories, which are resources, basic products, secondary products, illegal goods, and tools. The products that fall into these categories are:
Resources: clay, iron ore, trees, gold, oil, diamond, gunpowder
Basic products: bricks, iron, wood, engine, pump, shovel, saw, gasoline, chips, glass, plastic
Secondary products: bulletproof vest, camera, alarm system, telephone, computer
Tools: machine, oven, screwdriver, diamond drill
Illegal goods: guns, bombs, gunpowder Note: The Illegal Goods aren't illegal in all countries.
All products besides resources cost a certain amount of money to produce. Products and resources can be sold in shops to tourists/other players, can be exported (a limited amount per day) or auctioned off. You may only trade illegal goods in Digitalië, therefor these products are less wanted in Cyberie and Virtua.
Degrees & Statuses
One can get various degrees while playing the game. To get some degrees, one may have to go through a course that will give ample knowledge about the degree.
BetaTester -- Obtained after helping to test new features of Miniconomy.
CBI Special Agent -- Secret agents that secure the game of cheaters.
Editor -- Gives you the right to post on the News Feed.
Officer -- Police officer, usually employed by the mayor but may be appointed in some countries as "National officers"
Lawyer -- Gives you right to defend or represent people in court.
MP -- Member of Parliament. The Parliament is responsible for making important decisions in Cyberië. MP's are chosen by inhabitants of Cyberië during national elections based on Parties.
Minister -- Ministers, together with the President, form the Cabinet. They are responsible for the daily government in Cyberia.
President -- Head of either the Cyberian, Virtuan or Ibishan government.
Mayor -- Mayor in one of the cities.
Priest -- Gives you the ability to marry and divorce people.
Teacher -- Gives you the ability to administer state examinations for bodyguard, officer, lawyer, priest or teacher depending on National Laws.
Bodyguard -- Gives you the ability to redirect damage (from explosives/bullets or planks) from a chosen citizen to yourself.
Financial Civil Servant -- Gives you the ability monitor bank transactions and to give people fines or declare them bankrupt. FCS's are chosen by the governments.
Real Estate Agent -- Broker. This status allows you to buy and sell shops/houses. (You need credits to become a REA)
Veteran -- Used to be a member of the Council of Veterans, an influential council of the Federals. The Council of Veterans no longer exists.
King -- Head of Digitalian government.
Consul -- Appointed by the President of Virtua to be member of the Virtuan government.
Senator -- Member of the Digitalian government. You can be chosen to be a Senator by one of the mayors of the Digitalian cities.
Assistant -- Makes you visible as an assistant in chat. As an assistant you are expected to help new players and answer their questions.
Recruiter -- Given to those dedicated to helping grow and strengthen the game by doing "tasks" assigned by the Federals or Head of Recruitment, including but not limited to: MC Documentation, Tutorials, Updating information on outside sites, translating Miniconomy to other languages.
Round 50 participant -- Given to you after reaching a networth of 5000 ISH or higher in round 50.
Round 75 participant -- Given to you after reaching a networth of 7500 ISH or higher in round 75.
Round 100 Participant -- Given to you after reaching a networth of 10,000 ISh or higher in Round 100
10 Year Anniversary Party Participant -- Given to you if you have participated in the 10 year anniversary party in Amsterdam.
Within Miniconomy, there are several statuses you can obtain. Depending on your merits in the game, your status may rise. The following statuses are distinguished:
Cheater -- Given to you when you have been caught cheating. Cheaters have limits in the game.
Citizen -- No special status. You receive this status when you start with the game.
Advanced -- You become ‘advanced’ by making it to the top-20 once.
CoI -- Captain of Industry. Status that is given to you when you win a round, or when you have three references in the top-10. CoI's are well respected in Cyberië and Virtua.
Super-CoI -- Super Captain of Industry. You can get this after winning three rounds, or by getting ten references in the top-10. These are very good merchants of Miniconomy. MOI -- Master of Industry. You can get this by getting 30 references in the top-10. These are the best merchants in Miniconomy.
Designer -- Highest achievable status, only for the Designers and Game Leaders.
Criminal -- Status given when you have between 3 and 49 criminal points
Gangster -- Status given when you have between 50 and 149 criminal points
Criminal Mastermind -- Status given when you have more than 150 criminal points
At the end of each round, elections are held. When a player logs in, there is a special screen which redirects you to the polling station. In this polling station, you can vote on a mayor and, depending on the country you live in, cast a vote for your national government.
The candidate with the most votes in his town, becomes mayor. It is the mayor's job to make sure there are enough roads, parking lots, parks and monuments to stimulate trading; furthermore the mayor may place export orders for traders in his town. They can then export their goods to the city Warehouse. The mayor can use these products to build more parks, roads, parking lots etcetera. A mayor also has the possibility of subsidizing a certain group of people (the mayors can set a maximum balance where people who are above that maximum, don't receive the subsidy). Personal subsidies, for example for people building harbors and banks, are also often distributed by mayors.
Mayors are also chief of the local police station. They hire officers. As a final responsibility, mayors are seen as the social center of a city. New players can seek advice from a mayor and an answers to their questions.
Virtua has a form of government based on Consuls. During the elections, votes can be cast on candidates for Presidency. The candidate with the most votes will be President of Virtua the next round. The canditate with 2nd most votes will be the Vice-President. The President has to hire at least 2 citizens as a consul. Together they form the Virtuan Council.
The Standard positions of the council appointed are: Consul of Finance, Consul of Justice and Safety, Consul of Education. "General" Consuls may be appointed as well, as well as up to two "Advisors to the Council" who can discuss but not vote.
In Cyberië, the country is governed by a parliament and a cabinet. Leading the cabinet is a president. The Parliament is chosen during the elections. Political parties can form a voting list, and from these votes thirteen seats in the parliament are divided. The biggest party usually decides who will become the new President, and this president may select a vice-president. The parliament appoints the Ministers among them. Members of the Parliament are allowed to file Law Proposals and vote for them. They may also force ministers to do a specific task by means of a motion. The Parliament may have Ministers and the (vice-)President step down by means of a Vote of No Confidence.
There are three standard Ministries: Finance, Justice and Education. There can also be chosen to found a Fourt Ministry, which takes on specific tasks desired in that round.
Digitalië is some kind of a Constitutional Monarchy. Leading the administration is the King, the daily governing is done by Senators. The King has received the status by shooting his predecessor into bankruptcy. A King can also voluntarily give the status to a new King. Senators are appointed by the mayors of the Digitalian cities. Thus, there are three Senators. There are no elections in Digitalië for the national government. Both Senators and Kings may file Law proposals, The King decides what becomes law.
Ibisha is a dictatorship where the elite hold reign over the country's citizens. The ultimate power of the President and his ibishan Leadership is unmatched in Miniconomy as it is the only place where one citizen holds power over both the local and national government. The Ibishan Leadership consists of the advisors of the President on areas such as treasury, transport, and education. In the end however, the President has ultimate power.
Miniconomy has a very strong and tight community. Although not all players are socially active, some activities do promote activity between players. The easiest way to sell products for example is through the buildup of network of frequent customers. Although most informal communication takes place via the chat and via MSN, there are some other in-game forms of communication.
Clubs are the internet forums in Miniconomy. Different sub forums are available after someone builds a club and the players joins it. All club owners are automatically administrator of the club, and have the ability to appoint three moderators. Politics and game announcements also take place through clubs, and it is the preferred way of communication in Miniconomy. The possibility of private clubs, protected by a password, also allow for political parties, newspaper publishers, and volunteers to chat within the game without having to resort to outside communication tools.
Miniconomy has one official newspaper, the Miniconomist, which publishes every week in Dutch. Besides this newspaper, there are also other newspapers, created by players themselves. All the newspapers can be found by going to the kiosk in Miniconomy.
About once every 3–4 months there will be held a Miniconomeeting. Currently only Dutch and Belgian players organize these kind of meetings of which there have been a few dozen so far. The last meeting took place in Amsterdam on 14 January 2012 and had over 25 attendees. On average about 10 to 20 players attend these meetings, coming from anywhere in the two countries. Some often travel 5 hours to get there.
Administrative Staff and Volunteers
There are five different administrative and volunteer functions, these are:
Federals and Wouter – These are the game masters and the development team of Miniconomy. The Federals are divided into 4 roles: Federal Manager, Federal Assistant, Federal Coordinator, Federal Researcher. Federals are appointed from the playerbase, the exacts are unknown but it is speculated the Federals decide whom to appoint in consultation with Wouter, the game's owner.
Central Bureau of Investigation agent (CBI) – This is the anti-cheat team of Miniconomy. They check all financial transactions to make sure no one breaks the game rules. These agents are players appointed by the Federals and Wouter.
Assistant – These are the administrators of the in-game chat. They also help new players with the game since they are easily recognizable on the chat. Assistants are appointed by Head Assistant in consolidation with the Federals.
Editor - They are responsible for posting to the Newsfeed as well as adding tweets to twitter.com/miniconomy. Some examples of requests would be announcements by a National Govnernment. Editors are appointed by the Head Editor in consolidation with the Federals.
Recruiter – Recruiters are part of a group of volunteers who seek to bring new players, keep new and old players alike by promoting the game by doing tasks.
Expert – These volunteers each have an area of specialty for which players can request more information about.
High Council – A group of 3 experienced players that work as an advisory team for the Federals, Wouter and the Federal Union. Appointed by the Federals in Consolidation with the Federals. The High Council is the highest judicature organization in the Federation.
Federal Union - A Group of 8 players and a chairman/woman consisting of delegations of 2 players from each country of the Federation, this group can make changes to certain laws in the International lawbook and make suggestions and reccomendations to the High Council and Federals. This is the highest political organization in the Federation.
Miniconomy in the classroom
The educational changes make it possible to play Miniconomy with a group of players, like a class of students. The participants will play the regular game like all other players and since you can't tell them from regular players, they will blend completely into the society itself. Student accounts however won't be allowed to partake in criminal activities such as shooting and stealing.
The group leader can follow his or her class almost with every move they make. To not lose oversight or control, teachers can therefore follow the activities of the students and help them on their way. The group leaders can also see the balance sheets and income statements of all students.
The assignments that the students get can therefore be decided by the group leader. Assignments including Miniconomy could be:
- Making a round report where actions taken are defended and explained further
- Trying to get the highest amount of net worth in the class
- Writing a business plan
The group leader also gets a Miniconomy-account, which he or she can use to take a look into the world of Miniconomy and even trade or compete with the students or the other players if they would like.
Minoconomy is primarily developed for students in Middle School or higher, and especially for the subjects Economics, Management and Organisation, and Math. The game however also lends itself well for aspects in the society for Social Studies. In a 3 week round, your students can independently start playing the game. The assignment then you can decide yourself.
In 2005 the Educational Manager was created, which allows teachers to follow every step of their students’ progress within the game. 18 schools have participated since then, with positive feedback. At the moment is only possible for Dutch schools to use this feature, but the English translations of the Educational Manager are in full progress and the possibility for the use of Miniconomy in the classroom using the English language are expected to be ready after the summer of 2008. The age groups where Miniconomy matches the curriculum are between 12 and 20, due to the general developments that students get in the field of language, economics, communication, and politics. For more information check the Miniconomy homepage.
- Article by the CoS Netherlands about Miniconomy issue number 6 2005
- Entry for the Digital Pioneers Contest for round 3
- Gamecore.nl interview with co-creater Mark Leenards
- Gamer.nl article about Miniconomy
- Article about Miniconomy by the AOB (Dutch General Education Union)
- Miniconomy used in a presentation about Virtual learning in the classroom by KennisNet
- Article about Miniconomy in the NRC Handelsblad
- Economie voor beginners. de Volkskrant (5 April 2003) p. 5M
- Miniconomy Documentation Project A game explanation made by players of the game