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TEDxBloomington -- Edward Castronova -- "Be A Gamer"

Edward Castronova, Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University, is a founder of scholarly online game studies and an expert on the societies of virtual worlds. Castronova teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the design of games, the game industry, and the management of virtual societies. Outside his academic work, Professor Castronova makes regular appearances in mainstream media (60 Minutes, The New York Times, and The Economist), gives keynotes at major conferences (Austin Game Conference, Digital Games Research Association Conference, Interactive Software Federation of Europe), and consults for business (McKinsey, Vivendi, Forrester). In the longer run, Professor Castronova aims to develop online games for studying human society.In 2001 Castronova, a self-proclaimed "failed economist," decided to devote his life to playing video games. He started playing EverQuest, an online role-playing game with 400,000 players, and noticed that it had an economy in it. As a joke, he decided to "analyze" this economy as if it were real. Carefully (if in full irony) collecting statistics from the EverQuest economy, Castronova found to his astonishment that it was worth several hundred million dollars a year in terms of gross production value. He set the joke aside and started studying online economies for real.Castronova's presentation at TEDxBloomington, and his work as a whole, is strongly motivated by Tolkien's idea that myths are used to express true things that are inexpressible by other means. He says, if this idea is true, then every moment spent in a fantasy world is a moment spent trying to get at those ineffable truths. It is the opposite of a waste of time; it is perhaps the best possible use of time. Even if one is not prepared to go that far, one might be willing to accept that gaming and fantasy are naturally attractive, and therefore likely to consume ever more human time. Technology will enable this turn to fantasy, and the effects on the outside world will be profound. When millions of people leave a society, the society must change. Some changes of this sort are certainly headed our way. About TEDx In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxBloomington, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxBloomington event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.
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