Welcome address and Keynote Presentation
Edward Castronova

This event took place on 20th November 2008 at 10:15am (10:15 GMT)

I study synthetic worlds: online environments where thousands or even millions of users share a persistent, fabricated geographic space at the same time. These places, billed and sold as games, actually seem to be offering something more than mere entertainment. They act as a fantastical alternative to ordinary life, and as such they pose a significant challenge to business-as-usual in ordinary society: markets, public policy, politics, law, romance.

In the area of economics, for example, one pressing issue involves the extent to which people are paying real money to buy items for their game characters, thus blurring the distinction between the game economy and the real one. And this is not the only way in which synthetic worlds threaten the lines we have drawn between fantasy and reality.

As a parent and a gamer, I am both excited and concerned about these developments. The objective of my work is to increase our understanding of this technology.
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