Pro Seminar Series: Academic Uses of Virtual Currency

Academic Uses of Virtual Currency

Edward Castronova, PhD
Professor, The Media School, Indiana University

Friday, January 26 at 11 a.m. in CAS 184

MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences Building
404 Wilson Rd., East Lansing, MI 48824

In the mania surrounding global virtual currencies like Bitcoin and Etherium, the local uses of play-money have been generally overlooked. Any group can make a little currency to enable trading and sharing among their members. Indiana's Game Design BS degree program launched a local currency, the Crimson, in December 2015. The goal was to facilitate collaboration across classes: A student in a Design class could hire an artist from an Art class using Crimsons. That has happened, but there have also been some rather interesting developments. There was an uprising over an unfair payment. We had to set up a monetary policy authority, like the Fed. People have used Crimsons to flirt. A body of lore was developed about an oppressed dryad. This talk will review our experience with the Crimson, including all the how-to's and do-not's of setting up something like this. Overall, it has been fun for everybody and achieved the goal we set for it: To tighten our community.


Edward Castronova is Professor of Media at Indiana University specializing in Games, Technology, and Society, and has served in the past as Director of the BS degree program in Game Design, and Chair of the Department of Media Arts and Production. Books include Wildcat Currency: The Virtual Transformation of the Economy (Yale 2014), Virtual Economies: Analysis and Design (with Vili Lehdonvirta, MIT 2014), Exodus to the Virtual World (Palgrave 2007), and Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games (Chicago 2005). Castronova’s papers at the Social Science Research Network place him in the top 1% of downloads of over 300,000 academic authors.