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May 11, 2009

It was the seventy-seventh richest country in the world. And it didn’t even exist.

After yet another querulous note from The Walrus I am throwing them a link (but not to the sidebar). Game Theories by Clive Thomson is a piece from several years back. It remains of interest; first, as a comment on virtual economies and; second, as a rags-to-riches tale of academic excellence. The latter is heartening as it suggests it just may be possible to succeed in higher education without signing away your soul.

Edward Castronova had hit bottom. Three years ago, the thirty-eight-year-old economist was, by his own account, an academic failure. He had chosen an unpopular field—welfare research—and published only a handful of papers that, as far as he could tell, “had never influenced anybody.” He’d scraped together a professorship at the Fullerton campus of California State University, a school that did not even grant Ph.D.s. He lived in a lunar, vacant suburb. He’d once dreamed of being a major economics thinker but now faced the grim sense that he might already have hit his plateau. “I’m a schmo at a state school,” he thought. And since his wife worked in another city, he was, on top of it all, lonely.

To fill his evenings, Castronova did what he’d always done: he played video games.

Far too much to summarize; I shall leave the rest at the link.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 11, 2009 11:24 AM