The Capitalism Of MMOs: Uncharted demographic numbers that spell doom for socialists

For those who have read the novel Atlas Shrugged and have an appreciation for it, let me share with you my own private Galt’s Gulch—the Atlantis found in the novel where an intrusive government gave the best minds in the world little choice but to simply go on strike and let the parasites of society rot on the vine.  My paradise does not exist somewhere in the real world.  I know many people, some with considerable amounts of money who are making arrangements in the wake of the Obama administration to re-establish themselves in places like Belize and Argentina to run from the encroaching governments that exist in the world.  That is not my plan, as I see it as pointless, because eventually, the scum bags will be knocking on my door there as well.  So for me—physically, I will stay in the real world and fight them, I’ll fight them in court, I’ll fight them in politics, or I’ll fight them with fists and guns—but one way or the other, I will not comply with governments hell-bent on individual destruction in the name of socialism.  The distinction is a simple one; I support unhampered capitalism while my political enemies support degrees of socialism—through Social Security, health care, and various proposals of wealth redistribution.  Most politicians alive in America today are some variation of a socialist because they seek to advance their power and influence artificially with looted money consumed by taxes—and they create more laws and policies as ways to extract more of my money.

With such a social position, it makes for awkward dinner conversations.  Even though I appreciate that some of my well-to-do friends continue to invite me to all the big events around town, the charity extravaganzas where all the powerful minds of media, business and politics gather to stroke each other and feel important.  I despise many of those people because of what they represent as entities openly advocating altruism not for what it does for the unfortunate, but for their own power base–and don’t make an effort to disguise it leaving such evenings fruitless.   Taxation is often advanced through altruist schemes, and it disgusts me.  I’d rather spend my time in my personal Galt’s Gulch where pure capitalism is alive and well, where I can do pretty much what I want when I want to do it, and I can fly around from point A to point B without the stupid FFA getting in my way, or the FCC trying to regulate everything I say and do, or the TSA trying to frisk me just because I want to make a regional flight to a city two states away.   Or nearly half of everything I earn going to the IRS forcing me to run faster and faster on a treadmill that the government controls so they can take my money and give it to some slug who grew up doing drugs, slutting themselves around having babies out of wed-lock, or genuinely abusing themselves physically and mentally.  In my leisure time I look for ways to be away from all those elements, and I have found it in the video game The Old Republic—and my current excitement is that they have just created a new expansion seemingly just for people like me who love to fly, but don’t want the extra cost of housing an actual airplane at a hanger that is marred down in more rules and regulations.  The enjoyment of real-world flying is buried in paperwork, fees and taxes.  When the new combat space simulator opens in December, I may never see anybody in the real world again, because I simply love such things, and will likely never leave the virtual world of The Old Republic again.   I’ve flown in real life, and over the years I’ve played hundreds of thousands of hours of flight simulators and aerial combat games—and the brain really doesn’t know the difference.  So I am very much looking forward to this new element in my current favorite game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

On that game my wife has over 2 million credits and I have about half that.  She is very rich in that virtual world, because we spend a lot of time in The Old Republic doing things that earn credits—which is the money system exchanged.  I also spend a fair amount of time on the Bioware website following the complaints of other gamers playing the game.  I find their reasons for paying a monthly fee to play the game to be fascinating as many of them are raised by public education to believe in altruistic practices—so many expect Bioware to give away things for free, but many of the hardest core gamers are very much capitalists—people who are very innovative and expect to keep what they earn as they play.  This leaves Bioware always looking to create incentives to keep game players pushing to do more things and stay interested enough that they pay their subscriptions and spend hundreds of hours a month playing.  The incentives are credits and other rewards such as leveling up, earning certain titles, and acquiring unique items.

The Old Republic is what they call an MMO, a Massive Multiplayer Online game.  As you play the game online, thousands of other people are playing with you in the same environment.  It is similar to popular games like World of Warcraft in that the big distinction is that the worlds within the game are truly massive inspiring people to play together or against each other on a truly epic scale.  Something that everyone who plays these games understands is that they expect to keep what they earn—and they get very angry at game developers who short change them with restrictions.  If in The Old Republic Bioware taxed some of the credits my wife and I have earned at the same rate that occurs in real life, and gave those credits to new gamers who only played a fraction of the time that we do, most people playing The Old Republic would find that imposition absurd—unfathomable even.  If Bioware did something like that, they would lose players by the hundreds.  The players would leave to play another game where rewards were not consumed and distributed to those who don’t have the same level of commitment.  Most people understand that it is unfair to tax in-game credits and give them to players who didn’t earn them.

Gamers who play these kinds of MMO products universally are raw capitalists.  They totally get it and when it’s asked why they play so many games so often, the reason is similar to mine—because it is their own Galt’s Gulch.  They know they don’t have the same opportunity in the real world to be successful because they either don’t have the political connections or access to capital because it’s been stolen from them by government.  So they play video games because at least there, they can keep what they earn.  I know this culture very well.  Both of my daughters worked for Gamestop for a while, my oldest was actually a manager at several stores all over Cincinnati.  When I’d go to see her for lunch I would get the opportunity to study these people and explore what motivated them.  They are a relatively new market demographic that nobody in government knows what to do with.  They as a generation from age 40 down to age 10 have pretty much dropped out of life.  They don’t care to join country clubs to socialize, they don’t waste their time trying to get rich in the real world because it’s nearly impossible with all the government looting, and they don’t trust the media or their education institutions because they’ve been lied to and are disappointed.  They don’t typically vote, they eat a lot of pizza, and they are happy to drive a piece of crap car because they don’t care if they meet a spouse.  Most of those things take them away from their game environments, so they don’t participate.  The game awards mean more to them, even though they are virtual.  I was seldom ever at Gamestop with my daughter where she wasn’t slammed with business.  It’s a gigantic industry.  For instance, the new Call of Duty video game just released made a BILLION dollars in just a 24 hour span of time.  A billion with a “B” which is a tremendous amount of money spent on a product of any kind in just one day.

The Old Republic video game I play with my wife cost $240 million just to produce the original content which launched with the game two years ago.  If I had to guess, I would say they’ve invested at least that much more in the game since the release, and they are of course expecting to make the game profitable which means they have to make enough revenue off subscriptions and other revenue streams to justify the expense.  With a half a billion dollar front loaded investment, Bioware understands that more than a few overweight geeks playing the game in their basement are needed.  It has to be somewhat mainstream to have financial viability at that level of investment.

What all those MMO games have in common is capitalism as the primary driver. Game developers understand that it is incentive that drives game participation and the more restrictions placed, the lower the game sales.  The reason that online gaming is such a current phenomena is because it is a refuge for people who love capitalism, and most young people do.  Socially through their educations they have been taught socialism, which they find unattractive—but are intellectually unarmed as to how to deal with it.  So they go to the online world of their choice and invest their time and energy into virtual capital instead of the kind based in reality because the virtual stuff is more real to them.  (Think about that.)  Most modern gamers find the fantasy world of World of Warcraft and The Old Republic to be more real than the REAL world.  What does that say about our society?

The FCC would if they could regulate this gaming industry.  After all, the NSA probably knows everywhere I’ve been and what I have done within The Old Republic just as they are tracking everyone playing all games online.  And that is what scares them, because in their giant mega computer that comprises all that  data and studies the behavior patterns of the modern America—or global video game players as there are people from all over the world playing The Old Republic they know what I just professed, and they are terrified to name it publicly.  They cannot turn off such games through regulation as much as they’d love to because of the riot of anger that would ensue.  People have found refuge from the statist world within video games, and once that is gone, there is no place left to run.  The Obama statist types had hoped by now through education, taxation, and government employment to have “changed” the nature of the human being to more of an altruist and less of a capitalist.  But it hasn’t worked and all that they achieved is they pushed people into a form of activity that doesn’t generate any taxes for them.  The government can’t tax the millions of credits my wife and I have earned in The Old Republic.   The IRS has no power there.  I can’t use that money to buy a new condo, an airplane, or a car either.  But who cares, because all those things force me further entangled with a government that simply wants to steal from me at every opportunity.  So I gladly give up those material objects in trade for virtual ones that actually have more value—because within the world of The Old Republic, I earned them and can keep them.

The video game industry is about raw capitalism in its purest form.  The economic theory of Keynesian thought would not work in The Old Republic or any other video game, just like it doesn’t work in real life.  Wealth redistribution doesn’t work in a gaming world, so why would government statist types believe it would work in the real world?  The answer is that they are in denial of what motivates and makes human beings viably functional.  Governments have instead hoped to nudge and shape the world into artificial yearnings that have no basis in reality—and they’ve done it at great expense to human development.  The test bed to these theories have been in the explosion of online gaming—particularly the MMO.   It is also why I’d rather spend my time in The Old Republic than anywhere else because there at least I am free of the types who expect to mooch off my energy and effort because they are too lazy to do for themselves.  And if that sounds like a harsh statement consider that I’m not alone—and it is that trait which drives an entire video game industry offering a kind of freedom that no longer exists in the real world—the freedom offered through capitalism.

Rich Hoffman