What Good is Room Currency?

Since Voodoo Chat has two types of currency, a global currency for all of Voodoo, and room-specific currency issued by room owners, several people have asked what use room currency has.   The general consensus among users was that global currency would be the “real” currency, and room currency would just be play tokens or the like.    The discussion got me to thinking of ways that room currency could be given a use beyond simple user exchange, such that even if room owners don’t create real uses for their room’s currency, it might find some real use anyway.

At its basic level room currency is just a tool room owners can use to promote user interaction in their room.  With the API system they have the potential to hook up their outside scripts with their room’s currency system letting them give users in-room currency for things like posting to their site’s forums, or playing their site’s games, etc.   They can also use the currency on their own sites for things like buying virtual site goods or account upgrades, or whatever else someone can think of.   Not all room owners will want to get that involved in using currency, however.   Rooms are more likely to issue currency than consume it which is why people assume it will just be play tokens for the most part.

Since the global currencies (Voodoo Gold, Silver, and Bronze) will be directly usable for purchasing chat titles and account upgrades it has inherent use to regular users of any Voodoo Chat room.    Likewise you can trade global currency to anyone in chat without the fan requirement associated with room currencies.   In that way the global currency is the glue that binds rooms together – it is (potentially, anyway) something that can be of common interest to users regardless of the room or community they happen to be part of, and acts as a “universal language” between chatters from different interest groups.

So, after a bit of thinking I settled on the idea of currency conversion – the potential to convert some room currency into global currency – to “upgrade” so to speak, an amount of limited use currency to a more general use currency, such that the activities that earn you local currency to the room you chat in can actually get you system-wide benefits.    No doubt you you can see a bunch of problems with such an idea immediately… don’t worry, I did too.   There’s more to it than that.

The big conceptual issues with automatically issued currency like room currencies can be, or currencies which can be issued without limit (which room currencies also can be) is inflation.  The more of a currency people have, the less meaning it has, and the more it takes for people to care about it…  if everyone has a billion of a currency then offering them 10 more is laughable… but if everyone only has 50, then 10 is a big deal.    The more of a currency floating around, the less value it has.     This becomes an issue with any currency that is created faster than it is consumed because eventually, the total amount of it will increase enough to cause some level of inflation.    Worse, if you can automatically convert a currency to another, then the other currency will suffer inflation along with the first.    In english, if you were able to convert your room currency into global currency at a 1:1 rate, you’d basically be able to issue global currency!   Plus, as you issued more of it, the global currency would mean less and less.

So how do we deal with that?   Two easy ways, really.   First, you limit the amount of conversion possible, and you adjust the conversion rate according to the currency being converted.   Lets get right to the specifics of the conversion system we’ll be using, and I’ll elaborate on how it deals with those problems afterward.

The local to global conversion will let people convert popular room currencies to Voodoo Bronze, but limit them to creating 100 Bronze per day per user.   To qualify for converting a minimum number of people must possess some amount of the room currency (say, 50 people) and the conversion rate will be 1:1 or 1% of the median amount of the room currency people have… whichever is higher.   Does that sound complicated?   It’s not, really, and most of it will be done by the program, so users will just see that they can trade in X amount of the room currency to get Bronze, and how much Bronze they can convert that day.

How does this system deal with the problems I mentioned?  Well, first we limit converting to actually active currencies – ones that people are actually collecting and/or trading among themselves.   Then, to prevent the unlimited issuing of global currency we limit the amount of global currency someone can create each day to 100.   Nomatter how much of the room currency there is, theres a hard limit to how much effect it can have on bronze each day.   Finally, we make the exchange rate based on the room currency’s own inflation rates.   The more room currency a room issues, the higher the cost to convert it into Bronze.    It makes the inflation rate of the global currency independent of any room’s own inflation rates.

It’s possible none of this made any sense to you.  If that’s the case then don’t sweat it – when everything associated with the Voodoo Chat currency system is in place it should be quite intuitive.   The summary is that room currency is going to gain the potential to have a real effect on your in-chat experience in the same ways the global currency does, and room currency will be more than a squeaky rubber toy.    One of the many benefits of open discussion!

Chat Currency enters Beta

Chat currency is finally here… sort’v!  The currency system is now in place, allowing room owners to create their own room-specific chat currency, and allowing users to trade currencies between them using the new trade window.   There is also a new API system that allows room owners to integrate their in-room currency with their off-chat website scripts to automatically give or take their room’s currency to users, or to query for an account balance.

Now, let me preface this by saying that the currency system is still “beta”, and all currency records will be DELETED when beta is finished.  This is to allow people to mess around with the currency system, and allow for errors in the system that might incorrectly delete or duplicate currency (which would be a problem in the long term!) before anyone uses the currency for any serious purposes.   So, feel free to give out, trade, or whatever.

So… what is “Chat Currency” exactly?  Well, it’s a sort of virtual money that you can get in chat, and use to trade with other chatters or potentially use outside of chat if the page decides to integrate outside services with their in-chat currency.   Voodoo itself has a currency that you’ll be able to use to buy titles and account upgrades, as well as trade with other users or (if a room allows for it) purchase room currency with, and so on.

To create a room currency for your room, you simply go into the Page App for your page and set an image and a name for your room’s currency.   Once you’ve done that you can open a trade window with any user that is a fan of your page, and give them any amount of your room’s currency.   Your room’s currency will appear on your list of currencies and it’ll show that you have infinity of it (a tiny infinity symbol).

It’s important to note that only page fans (people who have “liked” your facebook page) can traffic in your room’s currency.  It is impossible to give your room’s currency to people who are not fans of your page, to prevent people from being loaded up with useless currency they don’t want, and to prevent “fraud”, since more than one room could have the same name and image for their currency.  If you open a trade window with another user, only currencies that they are able to accept will appear in your possible selections list.

Official Voodoo currency (the global currency) appears on red panels in currency lists.  If you’re trading in a room, the room’s own currency appears in a bronze panel.  All other currencies appear in grey panels.   This way you will be able to tell the difference between the current room’s currency and other currencies of the same name, as well as the difference between the official currencies, and any people may create with the same name (and try to trick you with!).    We opted to do this instead of requiring that you trade in a room’s currency only when you’re in that room.

To make a trade with someone, you open their user menu and select “Trade”.   You’ll get the initial trade screen which has the currencies you currently have, and your offer.   Click any currency and type an amount into the amount box, then click “Add” to add it to your offer.   Once you’ve finished creating your offer, you click “Make Offer”.    At this point it will switch to the trading screen, which shows what you offer and what they offer.   Once both of you have finished your offers, you can click “Accept Trade” to confirm that you want to make that trade.   When both of you have accepted, the actual currency changes hands.   Accepting an offer locks you into it, but that acceptance is removed if either of you alter your offer in any way.

Now, some of this may sound complicated, but it really isn’t – you should be able to get the hang of it quite quickly!