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FIFA and Economics

May 21, 2013 1 comment

World of Warcraft AuctioneerRecently, a few friends and I have become overly consumed with FIFA 13, an online soccer simulator played on the Xbox 360, PS3, or PC. FIFA has several different game modes but our favorite game mode is called FIFA Ultimate Team. Ultimate team places you at the head of a team where you can form a squad and play as that squad against on, or offline opponents. What is so  such as World of Warcraft or Eve- where Ultimate Team players from all over the globe can buy, sell, and trade any footballer to generate an economy driven by player-made pricing and purchasing. Similar to a stock market, certain players have valuable stock and others do not. The similarities between the Ultimate Team auction house and a real market present evident trends such as supply and demand which can be connected back to our study of economics. But how close do these online simulators come to the real deal?

Surprisingly enough, some games have pulled off very successful artificial economies. An unknown blogger writes, “I’ve studied economics, and can safely say that MMO economies have measurably advanced our understanding of real world economics.” By giving the player the freedom to price an item however they choose, it creates a highly competitive market where equilibrium fluctuates regularly. What adds more competition, though, is a timed auction feature that is found any artificial marketplace from FIFA to Ebay. Especially in FIFA, the timed auction feature allows for drastic changes in equilibrium price daily, since the maximum time you can list a player for is 24 hours. Take for example the picture of Lionel Messi’s stock (ingame) below; one card is listed for 840,000 buy now while the other selected card is listed at 1,000,000 buy now.

Notice the selected card has a buy now price of 840,000 coins while the card being scrolled over has a buy now price of 1,000,000 coins

Notice the selected card has a buy now price of 840,000 coins while the card being scrolled over has a buy now price of 1,000,000 coins

Thus, a “get-in, get-out” mentality is needed if you really want to profit in these games. The methods used for success in FIFA can be very closely linked with the methods used for success in day trading in the stock market. I have learned from experience which players I can buy low and sell high. If I have enough disposable income (ingame) then I can buy several cards of a certain player and control the market price of that player. In other games, take World of Warcraft for example, someone can buy low and sell lower in order to help lower level players to increase their skills. A blogger nails this market exploit when they wrote, “In [World of Warcraft], I’ve driven down wool prices to help lowbie (low level character) crafters” (rpg.net). A rare occurrence to see a benefactor spend in order to help those who can’t necessarily afford to spend. Nonetheless, with such a vast amount of auctionable items in these games, presents endless opportunity for players to make a profit, which I think fully captures the essence of real life marketing.

Games that include an auction house feature develope unique economies that begin the same way that any real economy would. Though it may not be real, the work ethic required to produce profit is similar to that of a real market as well. What we can conclude about video games that include an auction house feature, such as FIFA 13, is that they help us experience a real life market without real life currency. Its nice to know that by playing videogames I can not only make connections back to my studies of economics but I gain a great deal of experience in a field that could possible be a part of my future.

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A Voter’s Importance

March 10, 2013 Leave a comment

The voting process has come to a halt after the election of President Obama for his second term, yet controversy around voter participation remains prevalent. In the United States, or any other country, the people experience controversy inside and out of their government. Controversy sprouts from corruption and scandals between officials, ultimately, promoting a common distrust among the people. ‘Distrust’ has been on the rise now for years in the United States and as a result, skeptics question the act of voting: “Is this truly a democracy?” “Does my vote even count?” Though a small percent may ask such questions, a general distrust with the voting process is becoming a contagious trend among an expanding basis of voters, especially the younger generation. In my time, the clash Conservative and Liberal becomes increasingly uneasy. There seems to be no middle ground. Though the majority of Americans participate in elections of importance, declining participation and distrust of officials leads me to believe that the core ideals and concepts of democracy are falling apart.

Fun photo from the President's inauguration day

Fun photo from the President’s inauguration day

Democracy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. A majority of values established by the democratic system have adapted to the needs and will of the people as the Union has grown and remains an icon of the United States of America. However, with lack of participation and skepticism of officials democracy simply cannot work successfully. Since “supreme power is vested in the people,” democracy only thrives with the cooperation of the governed. Therefore trust and faith must be put into representatives. Today, the government is dominated by greed and the quarrel between republican and democrat. An unknown blogger states, “Politicians now prioritize fund raising for their elections more than winning individuals’ votes. This is an unfortunate issue in the political system now, more money to fund elections than actually campaigning for votes.” It is no secret that money plays an excessive role in government and I believe that the issue of greed has an ample influence over voter skepticism. Unfortunately, some Americans pay no regard to elections and do not vote for unjustified purposes.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130041351

            People may not vote for a variety of reasons, however, numerous Americans simply prove to be indifferent and vote at random or not at all. This is very much a sign of ignorance and, to an extent, laziness. Personally, I believe indifference is a monumental problem in America, especially in voting; advocating the stereotype of “lazy Americans” across the world. Due to the colossal rift between conservatives and liberals, many vote one-sided simply because a representative is a republican or democrat. Neither candidates nor voters are making efforts to find a middle ground. Ignorance breeds an uneducated populace as well—negligent citizens do not take the time to self-educate. Essentially, Indifference, like not participating, simply does not compliment democracy. Lack of involvement does not show contentment, rather a lack of faith or any concern for the well being of our nation.

            To many, a vote is just one of millions. What most don’t realize is that a sum of elections are not landslides. Take, for example, the 2012 Iowa republican caucus Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat U.S. senator Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes, the closest GOP primary in U.S. history. A single vote can truly make a difference, though it may not necessarily seem so. In my personal opinion, voting is flawed due to misrepresentation of elected officials, previously discussed. Voting can seems pointless at times, however, voter participation is still largely important because it promotes, not only our fundamental democratic values, but the restoration of the roll of the individual within the United States.

The voter plays an important role in a democratic style of government, however, due to corruption surrounding our new style of “money dependant” government, the nationalistic values that call upon the citizen to vote dwindle. Corruption promotes distrust between the people and those who represent the people. Those who choose not to participate inhibit the core democratic values of our nation and the collective voice of the people cannot be heard. With less and less voters, democracy cannot reach its peak potential.

Gun Control: Diversion or True Controversy?

March 5, 2013 Leave a comment

            The debate around gun control ensues in Congress—President Obama seeking heightened reform while the GOP holds firm, defending the second amendment right. Resulting from the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, the debate has become heated between the right and left. A conclusion cannot be made between republicans and democrats; can a middle ground be met? So far, Congress has made plans to do two things: “strengthen the system of background checks on gun buyers and toughen the penalties for illegal gun trafficking” (McManus). Though good progress is being made, I feel it is important to note the prevalence of media around gun control. Since Sandy Hook, the media has belittled coverage of our countries economic issues surrounding the “fiscal cliff.” The timing around the shift in coverage makes my mind wander – “what if the Sandy Hook shootings are being used as a diversion?” I mean, the economy has been pretty slow and unemployment still high, right? So why gun control? Since our current fiscal situation is somewhat of a negative matter, my conclusion is that the media is using coverage of the gun control debates to take away from the essence of that cynicism.

News Stories Mentioning Gun Control

News Stories Mentioning Gun Control

There are several ways one can approach this matter. One being, like Rob Port says, “President Obama has seized the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting as an opportunity to push an always-controversial gun control fight to distract from much more pressing issues, such as the nation’s horrendous fiscal position. Or the contrary; that the debates over gun control are necessary and applicable after the fourth massacre in a year’s time. Yet, many fail to recognize a third option: a constructive distraction.

Though it may seem that both republicans and democrats have become substantially involved in the debates, if you think about it, an immense amount of stress has been taken off of legislators who are seeking common ground in fiscal matters. Furthermore, I would argue that the emphasis on gun control has relieved American citizens from the tension surrounding the fierce financial discussions. Glenn Reynolds of USA Today even pleads to the president, “President Obama, the Democrats, and plenty of Republicans in Congress, would like it if you’d spend the next few weeks talking about gun control. That’s because when you are, you’re not talking about the country’s financial situation.” The debates have done much good in freeing our minds from fiscal matters, however, both republicans and democrats have blown the matter out of proportion.

The sole issue regarding the debates over gun control was that there was little concern amongst a large majority of people. A Gallup survey conducted in January asked, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? Gun control was caught in a four-way tie for sixth place, (of 15 ‘problems’ mentioned) with only 4 percent of participants even mentioning gun control. In the same survey, the Economy the federal budget deficit ranked first and second, respectively: 21 percent of participants mentioning the economy and 20 percent the budget deficit.

Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 10.46.27 PM

Gallup Survey Results

The events at Sandy Hook were tragic, yet the debates seemed inordinate. I think it is necessary to mention that President Obama abides by a “Conscience model of representation;” it was his duty to attest the “cultural change pathway” used by the groups of protestors and media (Shea 14, 168). However, the president was far too aggressive in his approach. By taking a firm offensive, President Obama received an adequate defensive from the GOP and NRA; exemplifying the partisan trend of, what I coin, “getting no where,” established in the fiscal cliff debates.

            Indeed the debates on gun control were a ‘constructive distraction,’ nonetheless, the debates were undoubtedly addressed unprofessionally. Republicans, democrats, and media accomplished the goal of shrouding our economic upheaval by creating yet another battle between parties. The debates revolving around gun control are necessary, yet the coverage around them has become distracting from more pressing matters. When will the United States escape minute debate over gun control? When will our financial crisis be settled? The answers remain to be seen.

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