Wildcat Currency

How the Virtual Money Revolution Is Transforming the Economy

Edward Castronova

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An intriguing look at the exploding phenomenon of unregulated private currencies and how they will change our economy forever

Private currencies have always existed, from notes printed by individual banks to the S&H Green Stamps to Bitcoin. Today’s economy has seen an explosion of new forms of monetary exchange not created by the federal government. Credit card companies offer points that can be traded in for a variety of goods and services, from airline miles to online store credit. Online game creators have devised new mediums of electronic exchange that turn virtual money into real money. Meanwhile, real money is increasingly going digital, where it competes with  private currencies like Bitcoin. The virtual and the real economic worlds are intermingling more than ever before, raising the possibility that this new money might eventually replace the government-run system of dollars, euros, and yen.

Edward Castronova is the leading researcher in this field, a founder of scholarly online game studies and an expert on the economies of virtual worlds. In this dynamic and essential work, he explores the current phenomenon of virtual currencies and what it will mean legally, politically, and economically in the future. In doing so, he provides a fascinating, often surprising discourse on the meaning of money itself—what it is, what we think it is, and how we relate to it on an emotional level.

Edward Castronova is professor of media and cognitive science at Indiana University. His previous publications include Synthetic Worlds and Exodus to the Virtual World. He lives in Bloomington, IN. 

“A brilliant, fresh, and accessible look not just at one of the fastest-growing online trends, but at one of humanity’s most enduring institutions.”—Joshua Fairfield, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee School of Law

“A controversial thesis with potentially broader implications for the future of banking and global corporations.” —Kirkus Reviews
‘Edward Castronva’s Wildcat Currency [is] a lucid skip through the proliferation of digital dosh and the dizzying implications of a world where the old norms of what we think of as money are fast being done over by the internet. . .Castronova’s skill is to dance around that space where real and virtual currencies collide, leading to what he predicts will be 'a rather wild time in monetary affairs.'’—Alistair Osborne, The Times
"In Wildcat Currency, Castronova explains with clarity how the future of money owes more to virtual worlds and video games than to traditional financial institutions and governments.  Will reading this provocative book pay off? You can bank on it!"--Kevin Werbach, co-author, For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
"Edward Castronova raises questions and presents basic examples from computer games, airline miles, loyalty programs, data programs, Paypal and other means to transmit payments, invent monies and near monies in the brave new world of computerized network exchange."--Martin Shubik, Yale University
ISBN: 9780300186130
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4