Valve is pretty much an unknowable obelisk: giant, powerful and unfeelingly silent. Due to this absence of communication, the few voices that do emerge from the studio are amplified ten-fold. Hence why you may recognise the name Yanis Varoufakis. During his time as Valve's economist-in-residence, he ran a blog (opens in new tab) dedicated to analysing and explaining the studio's virtual economies.
Now, Varoufakis has a new job. He's today been named Greece's finance minister.
Varoufakis was at Valve from 2012-2013. Despite not playing games, he said in his introductory post that he was fascinated by the virtual economy Valve had built—specifically that it was an economy with hard data for every transaction. "Think of it: An economy where every action leaves a digital trail, every transaction is recorded;" he wrote at the time. "Indeed, an economy where we do not need statistics since we have all the data!"
Through Varoufakis's analysing, we learned how gifting played a part (opens in new tab) in TF2's economy, how a sophisticated bartering and arbitration formed (opens in new tab) around trades, and how Valve doesn't even fire people (opens in new tab) like a normal company.
Varoufakis's role as finance minister is quite a departure from the academic study of non-existent headwear. Greece was hard-hit by the economic crisis, leading to a debt crisis that has resulted in high unemployment and bankruptcy. Varoufakis himself is seen as a radical—one who has referred to austerity measures as "fiscal waterboarding".
That, though, is the purview of serious political reporters (opens in new tab). As a videogame reporter, I feel it's my responsibility to do something dumb. Here, then, is a series of suggestions Varoufakis could take from his days at Valve that would instantly, definitely, fix Greece's economy.
- Randomly give a fish on a stick (opens in new tab) to citizens as they go about their day. Also, sometimes a trilby (opens in new tab).
- If you set a hat on fire (opens in new tab) it is worth more money. Because reasons.
- All trade will now be based on the conversion rate: Two Refined = Stout Shako.
- The most valuable thing you can own is now a decapitated rabbit's head (opens in new tab).
- Abolish physical crop exports. Switch to digital :weed: exports. They're worth more (opens in new tab).
- The Trojan Horse, but with Crates.
- Make Half-Life 3