The Economist has an article this week on as they put it, links between real and virtual economies. Note that if you don’t subscribe, reading this article will cost you $3. (I already subscribe to the print version, since I like news magazines that don’t talk down to me.) Here’s the money quotes:

\’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac\’c5\ldblquote World of Warcraft\’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac? and other similar games, in contrast, are fantasies with a strong sense of fair play in which status must be earned as part of a rags-to-riches storyline\’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac\’e2\’80\’9dso trade in game items is deemed to be against the rules.

Normally, this newspaper’s devotion to free trade is unwavering. Yet curbing the trade of in-game items is defensible, since game economies are run to maximise fun, not efficiency. While writing his forthcoming book, \’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac\’c5\ldblquote Synthetic Worlds\’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac?, Mr Castronova has been pondering whether real economies could be run for fun too. \’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac\’c5\ldblquote Wouldn’t that tip the economics texts on their heads?\’c3\’a2\’e2\’82\’ac? he muses.