After all, you can't just simulate economic theory on a computer and see how it goes -- real economies are made up of human beings, and it's pretty much impossible for a computer model to guess what they're going to do. And you can't just try shit in the real world to see what happens -- not even tiny little booger countries like Andorra would be cool about becoming an economical petri dish that may or not result in total depression. But in a gaming world, you have millions of players dealing with virtual currency and goods -- things that are totally real (to them) and cause them to make decisions accordingly. Players work for in-game "gold" (by killing monsters or crafting items), and, therefore, that gold represents their labor ... just like real money
Given, the cash drawer has to be super freakin' sturdy.
And experts say that researching all of this has uncovered several fascinating tidbits. For instance, MMO banks tend to operate on a full-reserve system, where 100 percent of the customers' money is kept in the bank at all times. This is opposed to the real world fractal-reserve system, where physical cash can be lent out willy-nilly whenever deemed necessary. It's pretty much an honor system economy (honorconomy?) that, according to Gudmundsson, "increases the burden on banks to be diligent and efficient." Shockingly, most virtual bankers stay on the up-and-up, and virtual money is trusted to be in safe hands.
And the libertarians out there will like reading about how, in all of these cases, the games' libertarian/anarchic financial models caused their economies to recover from crashes much more rapidly than in the real world (as did things like, say, the lack of a minimum wage). You can argue among yourselves what that means (after all, it's also legal to just totally murder people inside a video game, and stick your balls in their face), but it's good information either way.
Teflon codpiece sales just went through the roof.