Role-Playing Games are big, and the Xpertweb design study is focused on creating an open source economic role-playing game that publishes the scores of the players and also reports the details of each game they play. Like any such game, we expect a community to develop around the software, to the extent it attracts and holds the interest of enthusiastic evangelists.
Unlike the larger Economy it mimics (and can replace, if enough players go online), the Xpertweb RPG provides a coherent, unchanging set of rules for success or failure. This is because, in the capital-E Economy, the big money is won by changing the rules. In Xpertweb, the big money is won by playing the game according to the rules and coaching others to start playing.
Many of the RPGs have a secondary economic aspect, since player attributes and tips can be bought and sold. Xpertweb is designed to be primarily economic, with score keeping added to allow the players’ reputations to precede them in the field of play, which Xpertweb calls an Agora, or Market.
As with many RPGs, Xpertweb players may team up on a common enemy. Most teams will be two players, combining resources to subdue an impersonal problem, not another player or team, sort of like playing against the computer. Usually one of the teammates will be called a buyer, who brings the problem to the attention of the other player, called a seller. Once they team up, it’s a shared problem. After the problem is defeated, both players are scored, but the seller also is paid by the buyer for teaming up on a challenge that was just too much for the buyer alone.
The Role-Playing aspect is important, for each of us plays a role when we go out into the market seeking to sell something of value for more than it costs us. In the Xpertweb RPG, one person may assume several roles, if it’s useful for selling different kinds of services. For instance, a landscaper might cut lawns under one role and design landscapes under another one. Freed from the limitations of a single job at a single company, individuals can find what roles best suit them.
As with any online game, each new role must earn its own reputation from scratch. However, just as you can buy weapons and tips for many games, anyone can team up with a more skilled player to solve a problem for another player.
Where other RPGs award only points to success, Xpertweb players also send each other money, either at the end of each game or periodically, in exchange for reputation tips and data & tech support.
The game interface is bland compared to online games but, because it’s just HTML & PHP, it can easily be modified by the players. If the players need more graphical interest, maybe they can buy artwork with the money they win from playing.