Valve has welcomed a new staff member, one who doesn't quite fit into the usual mold of game development. Yanis Varoufakis is an economist, recruited by Valve to enhance the user experience for customers. While he calls himself a "total ignoramus of the world of video games," Varoufakis says that Valve wants him to help develop new services for the Valve "economy."
In a lengthy Valve blog post, Varoufakis explains how he was recruited by Valve, and his plans going forward. "I would become, in some capacity (that was to be hammered out later), Valve's economist-in-residence," he said. "My intention at Valve, beyond performing a great deal of data mining, experimentation, and calibration of services provided to customers on the basis of such empirical findings, is to to go one step beyond." He says he wants to "transcend the border separating the 'real' from the digital economies" and bring together lessons from Valve and the gamer economy.
CCP hired an economist for EVE Online, to help manage and plan its complex economy. These plans sound like they could be more ambitious, if nothing else than because his job will apply to various Valve games.
Varoufakis says he'll be offering weekly blog reports on his experiences into the social economies, and for the moment it's still a bit vague how all this will play out. Still, it's an interesting idea at the very least, especially as Valve opens up more in-game economies and item trading.