Dragon Kill Points - DKP As Virtual Capital

DKP As Virtual Capital

Further information: Virtual economy and MMO economics

Since the intention of DKP is to allocate scarce resources amongst guild members, they can be understood in the context of virtual capital. Players "earn" and "spend" DKP, bidding in a system of auctions for an item which holds some value for them. DKP are referred to as "currency" a guild leader pays his "employees". Despite these analogies, DKP remain a kind of "private money system", allowing guilds to mete out these otherwise unachievable items in return for participation and discipline. The points cannot be traded or redeemed outside the guild and are not actually part of the game itself; they are tracked on external websites. In contrast, the virtual currencies created by game developers are part of the game software and may be traded between players without respect to any social affiliation. Just as DKP is valueless outside the guild, parlaying of economic capital for DKP (paying real world currency in exchange for DKP) is almost unheard of. Because guilds mete out DKP in return for participation in events the functional result is that DKP serve less as currency or material capital and more as what Torill Mortensen refers to as a "social stabilizer"; players who attend raids more frequently or play by the rules reap the rewards while more "casual" gamers do not. This provides an incentive for players to remain in the social system (the guild) longer than they might otherwise.

Within the guild, DKP may stand in for competence—high level items (Krista-Lee Malone mentions a specific item from World of Warcraft, the "Cold Snap" wand) are forms of cultural capital themselves. Since the items are "bound" to the player who first receives them, the only way to wield a desired item is to be involved in the raid that defeated the boss which rewards it. As such, a "Cold Snap" represents a signal to other players that the bearer has defeated a particular high-level monster and therefore mastered the skills needed to do so. The points themselves represent a mélange of cultural and material capital. The language of material capital is used: "price", "bid", and "currency", but these terms belie a unit of account that "crosses the line between material and symbolic".

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