Portal:Business and economics/Selected economy/October 2008

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A virtual economy (or sometimes synthetic economy) is an emergent economy existing in a virtual persistent world, usually in the context of an Internet game. People enter these virtual economies recreationally rather than by necessity; however, some people do interact with them for "real" economic benefit.

Virtual economies are observed in MUDs and massively multi player online role-playing games (MMORPGs). The largest virtual economies are currently found in MMORPGs. Virtual economies also exist in life simulation games which may have taken the most radical steps toward linking a virtual economy with the real world. This can be seen, for example, in Second Life's recognisation of intellectual property rights for assets created "in-world" by subscribers, and its laissez-faire policy on the buying and selling of Linden Dollars (the world's official currency) for real money on third party websites. Virtual economies can also exist in browser-based internet games where "real" money can be spent and user-created shops opened, or as a kind of Emergent gameplay.