Valve: economist sees ‘the future’, discusses AR tech & hardware

By Dave Cook, Tuesday, 27 November 2012 09:00 GMT

Valve hardware chatter continues, following economist Yanis Varoufakis’s spell as the studio’s ‘Economist-In-Residence’. Varoufakis has blogged about his time with the studio, has discussed Valve’s dabbling in hardware, and claims to have seen ‘the future’ while there. Get his thoughts below.

The blog post was translated by NeoGAF forumite alexandros is rather fascinating, and recalls how Varoufakis was first approached by Gabe Newell to help the studio create what he allegedly called ‘a single currency’ across formats and countries. Whether or not this pertains to a system like Microsoft Points or not remains to be seen.

He was drafted in to help sort out the problem of economies that spawned from MMO games on Steam, and suggested that gamers selling in-game items across games and on eBay was part of Newell’s desire to create a single currency.

Varoufakis explained, “Today, as we speak, one million people make a living off of Valve’s games. And I don’t mean the 400 employees of the company. For example, in China at least 200,000 players earn from 40 to 80 thousand dollars annually – which is more than enough to ensure a comfortable living, without even having to leave their house and with a PC and an internet connection as their only means of “production”.

On the subject of Valve’s internal economy and famous ‘bossless’ hierarchical system, Varoufakis added, “Because Valve itself is structured in a way that contradicts all our prejudices about what a modern, successful high-tech business means and how it should be structured. It’s a bossless company, with no managers, with complete autonomy for every individual working there or working with it as I am now), with a system of value distribution that is based on the principle that they all vote on other people’s salary.

“I’ve written elsewhere on Valve’s structure so I won’t go deeper here. I’ll just say that it is an experiment that gives hope on how technological evolution could in the future a) be decoupled from the traditional hierarchical organization of a company (in a way that combines horizontal participatory management with high technology and efficiency) and b) lead to the radical separation of the capitalist connection of property rights over the means of production from the withholding of profits. A big discussion for another day.”

On the subject of Valve’s hardware exploits, which include AR goggle prototypes, Varoufakis explained, “At the time period between March till June I went back to Valve and we begun a research program of systematic study of their economies. Within a few days we had the first results that shed light on the way prices are determined and how arbitrage is fluctuating.

“At the same time, I got the chance to “see the future”. You see, in addition to their game software, Valve has started developing hardware. Worried by Microsoft’s and Apple’s tendency to claim a bigger and bigger cut of its profits (in order to allow users access to Valve games through the computers that run their software), Valve has started experimenting with its own machines that give you the ability to run these games without a (Microsoft or Apple-controlled) computer.

“I’ve signed an NDA so I can’t reveal much more. I’ll just say that I really saw the future. (it’s not a small deal to see a virtual but highly realistic alien stand beside a real human in the same room with you, walk around the room and wink at you. And all that without a screen, a projector or even a computer near you…)”

How’s that for a Tuesday morning bombshell folks? Let us know what you think below.

Thanks Kotaku.

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