Edward Castronova

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Edward Castronova
Birthname Edward Castronova
Date of Birth c.1963
Birth Place Unknown
Nationality American
Occupation Professor
Biography Virtual World Society Expert and Founder of Scholarly Online Game Studies

Edward Castronova is an American Professor of Telecommunications and Cognitive Science at Indiana University Bloomington. He has a background in International Studies, Economics, and Public Policy. Since the 1990s, Castronova has focused his studies to synthetic worlds and their economies.[1]. He is most notable for his work on the economies of synthetic works.

Education and Career

Castronova attended Georgetown University where he graduated with a BS in International Affairs in 1985. Following his undergraduate degree, he studied post-war reconstruction and social policy in Germany. Castronova then earned a PhD in Economics at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991.

Castronova began his carrer as an Assistant, and later Associate, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of Rochester. He was then an Associate Professor of Economics at California State University before accepting his current position as both Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the department of Telecommunications and Cognitive Science at Indiana University.

At Indiana University, Castronova teaches courses on the design of games, the gaming industry, and the management of virtual societies.[2] He is renowned for his contributions to the study of video games and virtual environments. In 2001, Castronova decided to dedicate his life to video games; after playing EverQuest, an online role-playing game with over 400,000 users, he saw value in how and why people played online games. Users take advantage of an alternate reality to provide themselves with a sense of worth that might not be possible for them in real life. Moreover, this multi-million dollar industry created what was known as the Real Money Trade, which allows players to exchange real monetary currency for in-game resources and goods.

Theoretical criticisms

Michael Thomas reviewed Castronova's Exodus to the Virtual World in the British Journal of Educational Technology in 2009. His first criticism is that Castronova's focus is particularly online gaming, not just synthetic and virtual worlds in general. Thomas argues that within online gaming worlds like World of Warcraft, the economy and culture will not reflect real world problems like unemployment and the policies of virtual worlds will not transform those of the real world as Castronova argues.



  • "A Test of the Law of Demand in a Virtual World: Exploring the Petri Dish Approach to Social Science", July 2008 [3]
  • "Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier," CESifo Working Paper No. 618, December 2001. [4]
  • "On Virtual Economies," CESifo Working Paper Series No. 752, July 2002. [5]
  • "The Price of 'Man' and 'Woman': A Hedonic Pricing Model of Avatar Attributes in a Synthethic World," CESifo Working Paper Series No. 957, June 2003. [6]


Grants, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Heuristica,” IARPA Sirius Program, Co-PI. Collaborative project with ARA, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Wright State University. $11.3m total, $1.3m to IU, 2012.
  • National Science Foundation, $117,013, EAGER: An Exploratory Study of Systems Emerging Between Real and Virtual Economies, September 2010 – August 2011.
  • “Virtual Worlds Pioneer” Award, Virtual Worlds Innovation Awards, 2008.
  • German Institute for Economic Research (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung), “Survey Tools in Second Life.” Two grants ($25,000 and $15,000 supplemental), January – December 2008. Funded.
  • Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Cleveland, “Monetary Experiments in a Persistent Political Economy,” May 2008 – April 2009, $330,000. Funded.
  • MacArthur Foundation Grant, “Synthetic World Experiments and Impact,” June 2006 – October 2007. $240,000. Funded.
  • NSF: Consultant on $250,000 exploratory grant to gather and analyze data from EverQuest II by Sony Online Entertainment. Dmitri Williams, Dan Hunter, and Nosh Contractor, co-PIs. June 2006 – June 2007. Funded.
  • Award: Outstanding Faculty Recognition, Research, CSU Fullerton, 2004.
  • Award: Drouillard Scholars Award, CSU Fullerton College of Business and Economics, 2002.
  • Grant: Center for Public Policy, Cal State Fullerton: “Poverty in Orange County”, 2002. $1,200. Funded.
  • Grant: Center for Public Policy, Cal State Fullerton: “Poverty in Orange County”, 2001. $1,200. Funded.
  • Fellowship: German Institute for Economic Research, Summer 2000. $10,000. Funded.
  • Grant: US Department of Agriculture, Summer 1995. $10,000. Funded.
  • Fellowship: German Institute for Economic Research, Summer 1992. $10,000. Funded.
  • Award: National Tax Association, Outstanding Dissertation in Public Economics. Second Place. 1992.
  • Fellowship: German Academic Research Exchange Service, 1989-1990. $15,000. Funded.
  • Fellowship: German Academic Research Exchange Service, 1985-1986. $10,000. Funded.[7]



  • Department Teaching Award, 2012
  • Undergraduate Professor of the Year, University of Rochester, 1999-2000. [7]

Undergraduate Courses Taught

Theory and Practice of Game Design, The Videogame Industry, Multiplayer Game Design, Videogames: History and Social Impact, Synthetic Worlds, Living in the Information Age, The Welfare State, Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics.[7]

Graduate Courses Taught

Game Design, Synthetic Worlds, Evolutionary Psychology and Media, Microeconomics for Policy Analysis, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Statistics for Policy Analysis, Philosophy of Inquiry in Telecommunications.[7]


Castronova was born Edward Bird, but took his wife's last name upon marriage on December 31, 2000. He has one son.

See Also

External Links


  1. Edward Cstronova Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
  2. Edward Castronova's mypage at Indiana University
  3. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1173642
  4. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=294828
  5. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=338500
  6. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=415043
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Edward Castronova's CV. Date Accessed: 12/09/2012.
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