There is nothing more heartwarming than mutually beneficial exchanges with intellectually curious people with whom one disagrees strongly on some matters while sharing strong views and common concerns on others. Russell Roberts is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a Chicago PhD holder. Besides his academic credentials, he is the host of ECONTALK, a scintillating weekly podcast on matters political-economic, and an associate editor of the libertarian Library of Economics and Liberty (http://www.econlib.org/). The other day he interviewed me on the internal organisation of Valve Corporation, on whether the ‘spontaneous order’ within Valve could be thought of as a Hayekian arrangement, on the future of corporations, on Adam Smith, David Hume, Friedrich Hayek and the problematic labour contract and, lastly, on the European and Greek debacles.
The Financial Times‘ Amie Tsang has just published this article in which she discusses the extent to which digital economies, in particular the ones that evolve within multi-player video games, have the power to elucidate ‘real’ world economic processes. The reader may enjoy reading her article in conjunction with Gabe Newell’s recent talk and, perhaps, my own musings here.
On 30th January, Gabe Newell gave a talk at the University of Texas, Austin, with the above title. Click here for an abstract and a description of the motivation behind the talk. The video of his talk is now available below:
In recent months, as some of you know, I have been working with Gabe Newell (of Valve Corporation) exploring the social economies that have spontaneously emerged within the vast and intriguing communities of video game players. Convinced that students of economics, politics and public policy in general have a great deal to learn from this weird and wonderful universe, I took the initiative of suggesting to the LBJ Graduate School of Public Affairs that they invite Gabe Newell to give a talk on these matters from his perspective. The result is the following invitation to whomever happens to be in the Austin area this coming Wednesday. See you there, if you will…
On Productivity, Economics, Political Institutions and the Future of Corporations: Reflections of a Video Game Maker
- Speaker: Gabe Newell, President of Valve Corporation
- When: 12.15, Wednesday 30th January 2013
- Where: SRH Room 3.124, LBJ Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin (Click here for map)
A few words on Gabe, Valve and his forthcoming talk: Gabe Newell worked for many years at Microsoft as a leading designer of the first three releases of Windows. In 1996 he left Microsoft to found, with Mike Harrington, Valve Corporation – a video game company which has proved immensely successful and whose anarcho-syndicalist structure poses interesting questions about the possible future of corporations. Valve’s trading platform, Steam, has evolved into a major electronic market, with 55 million active customers spread all over the planet. In this talk, Gabe will relate his experience of how the passage from standard video game manufacture to creating online communities of gamers changed his views on the meaning of productivity, shaped his understanding of interconnected economies, impressed upon him the need for new international governance institutions, and led him seriously to question the proposition that future corporations will resemble the corporations of today.
In today’s edition of Business Daily, a BBC World Service radio program, Ed Butler investigates digital currencies. As you will hear, my contribution was to warn that, while digital currencies are the future, the libertarian (wet) dream of an international digital-gold standard that involves no collective agency (i.e. democratically or otherwise determined government) is a mirage and will, with mathematical precision, turn into a nightmare. To hear the program click here (or visit the BBC website here). Continue reading
A discussion with Doug Henwood on why I accepted the position of Economist-In-Residence at Valve Software. Jump to 33’40” to hear my take on the company’s anarchosyndicalist management structure and the scope for original economic research it provides. (Please forgive the poor sound quality – courtesy of a low quality skype line). See also this blog post for more information/opinion.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT… Continue reading