In massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft, big bosses can’t be beaten by a player or two alone. Instead, dozens band together in guilds to reach their goals. However, when these bosses drop their prize loot, there frequently isn’t enough to go around. So how do these goods get distributed? Gamers have devised their own version of market socialism. Using an in-guild currency called DKP, members are able to acquire and exchange loot from shared battles. The guild is a kind of worker’s cooperative that helps distribute based on particular needs, without systems of debt, vertical leadership, or inequality.
Outsiders often discuss online gamer communities as rife with antisocial behavior and abundant racism, homophobia, and misogyny, populated by rage-addled nerds not fit to function in “everyday life.” Yet these same users must come together to play and succeed. While other political models exist, years of player history demonstrate that this sort of virtual socialism remains the most prevalent and long-lasting—proof that left economics can work even when the people that make up the polity are imperfect.