The Experience Points Economy

Managing your online reputation is essentially a game. You can even earn XP. And that’s awesome. But what happens as your online life becomes more and more relevant to your real life?

If you have about half an hour, I strongly encourage you to watch this talk by Jesse Schell. It’s fun. (Also, embedded at the bottom of this post.)

But if you don’t have half an hour, let me sum it up for you:

Games are spilling into reality, and reality is becoming more like a game. More and more actions in your daily life are rewarding you with experience points.

It basically ends there, with a nice note about how your grand kids will be able to find out just exactly how much of a loser you were, because your entire life is being recorded.

I don’t think Mr. Schell went far enough. What happens when people realize they can trade points for real things? What happens when the guy who sucked at regular, money-earning jobs finds out he’s really, really good at getting points for stuff he was already doing anyway?

What happens when we realize we no longer need money?

What are the implications of a currency that, instead of being printed in limited supply by the government, is infinite and generated by our own actions as individuals?

Just some thoughts.

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  1. Posted March 1, 2010 at 15:40 | Permalink

    Money by any other name is still money . . . a representation of agreed value for goods / services. What is interesting is we will increasingly directly share in the value we help generate and hopefully have control over how to use it. My current venture ( is an example of that where you can trade “points” earned for real money paid to a charity of your choosing. What if Zynga sent food to Africa for the ad dollars you generate? Now, that would be interesting.

  2. Posted March 1, 2010 at 16:03 | Permalink

    I wonder. It would be an entirely different kind of currency – infinite supply, yet consistently hard to acquire. It wouldn’t be immune to inflation or prevent corruption, but it would certainly be more efficient than our current system, and give people more freedom to do what they’re good at or passionate about, which would benefit all of us.

  3. Posted March 1, 2010 at 19:36 | Permalink

    Hm, still sounds just like money . . . especially the infinite supply part. Infinite supply of money or points just means a mix of inflation and/or growth of the system (money is easily printed, points are easily generated). Ultimately, I think money does enable people to do what they are good at / passionate about — when they realize that it is merely a points system in the game.

  4. Posted March 1, 2010 at 21:19 | Permalink

    Yes, but money is only printed by the government. XP can be created by anyone – I could give you XP for commenting on this blog. We would get paid for contributions of any kind, as long as *someone* values them – not just the government.

  5. Posted March 1, 2010 at 21:20 | Permalink

    The more people who value your contribution, the more XP you get. The more XP people get for contributing, the more people contribute. The more people contribute, the faster technology, society, and everything else evolves. WIN.

  6. Jeffrey Harris
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 14:35 | Permalink

    Its interesting… but seriously… Experience points for drinking Dr. Pepper? Count me out… I really hope the world can wake up from this garbage.

  7. Posted March 13, 2010 at 09:34 | Permalink

    I will take either XP or cold hard cash at the moment

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