Is Money Really the Issue?

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

August 20, 2008

In watching my son play a video game I was reminded that we’ve really set money up as a construct of scarcity. In the game called “Robots” you gather sprockets and sprogs to buy things: upgrades, parts, weapons, information.  In fact the whole game is based on gathering critical currency to give or trade.  This game is all about money.

It’s very clear that it’s about gathering together scarce things to get even more scarce things.  it seems that we’re programming ourselves and our children to identify and focus on scarcity rather than on sufficiency.  
When I looked around I realized that nearly every video game I could think of was about this idea (or the idea of hacking things into little bits to get the coinage to do the thing).  And that money is viewed as a bottleneck rather than a support to the gamer.
It was surprising to me to see and put the pieces together here. I wonder what message this is sending to those of us who like to play in the digital world.  What do you think?

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1 Comment

  1. The Genius

    I love the occasional game that comes along that lets me develop money systems and put them to use. I don't play it, personally, (see also: time vortex, addiction) but EVE Online has a way you can set up trade routes and hire NPCs and ships to run them for you. You have to be careful of pirates, and of changing trade product values, so you have to tweak them regularly, but it's a perfect example of how we should all be thinking about money — creating systems that create value for others, rather than simply trading our time to someone else for it.

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