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!