Valve recruits its own in-house economist
Prof. Yanis Varoufakis "to forge narratives and empirical knowledge".
Valve has recruited an "economist-in-residence" to help it scale up its virtual economies and offer a better customer experience.
The man in question is Yanis Varoufakis, currently Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens.
He laid out his mission statement earlier today in a lengthy blog post on Valve's official site.
"My intention at Valve, beyond performing a great deal of data mining, experimentation, and calibration of services provided to customers on the basis of such empirical findings, is to to go one step beyond; to forge narratives and empirical knowledge that (a) transcend the border separating the 'real' from the digital economies, and (b) bring together lessons from the political economy of our gamers' economies and from studying Valve's very special (and fascinating) internal management structure," he wrote.
He admitted to not being much of a gamer, but insisted that he is fascinated by how digital economies operate.
"I realised that this bunch of people were not just weird but also wonderful and, to boot, that what they were describing, the digital community they had facilitated into existence, was an economist's dream-come-true," he said of his first meeting with Newell and co.
"Think of it: An economy where every action leaves a digital trail, every transaction is recorded; indeed, an economy where we do not need statistics since we have all the data!"
Varoufakis will be offering a weekly update on his progress via the Valve blog.
The appointment shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Valve boss Gabe Newell hinted at the studio's ambition to expand in this direction during a Eurogamer interview last year.
"We need to hire an economist, because we keep bumping up into these issues," he said while discussing the finer points of its Steam Trading beta.
"You're starting to look at weird issues like currency and inflation and productivity and asset values and liquidity of asset categories. We just wish we were smarter about this stuff. We're reading frantically. We're brushing up, and all we're doing is convincing ourselves that we're more stupid."