Miniconomy URL http://www.miniconomy.com/ Slogan Miniconomy, the online trade game Commercial? Yes Type of site MMOG Registration Required Available language(s) English, Dutch, Spanish, Danish (German and French are under construction) Content license Closed Source Owner Trade Games International BV Created by Wouter Leenards Launched 1 January 2002 Current status Active
Miniconomy (also called MC by players) is an online, browser based, economic and trade simulation game developed in the Netherlands. The game has over 60,000 registered players from 121 different countries that can play the game in English, Spanish, Danish, and Dutch languages. As of December, 2010, 83 rounds have been completed. Miniconomy is currently on its 91st round, which started on July 2nd.
Miniconomy is free to play, but a premium membership is available. This membership allows for the creation of Corporations with which harbors, banks, and garages can be built, enables the player to start a political party, and gives the player personal smilies and colors on the forums. Miniconomy is still developing certain aspects further. Please note that a Corporation is not required to make a garage. Nor is a premium membership required to obtain a Corporation. Corporations can also be created by Captains of Industry.
- 1 History
- 2 General information
- 3 Game Structure
- 4 Community
- 5 Miniconomy in the classroom
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The idea for Miniconomy came in October 2001 when then computer science student Wouter Leenards started thinking about making a realistic trading simulation game. Together with his brother, Mark Leenards, he further developed the plan, and eventually created Miniconomy.
Supported by Mark and some friends, he developed the idea further. Mark, being a business administration student, focused on the economic aspects of the game, whereas Wouter did the programming. The result is a unique online game for everybody who is interested in trading, economics and games. The advantage of Miniconomy is that it can be played on your web browser, so with any internet connection; at home, in the office, at school or at a friend's house. The first public round of Miniconomy started on January 1, 2002.
The original idea, a game where economy is simulated, sprung from a combination of imagination and the strengths of other well known game concepts. In most games, however, trading and all its characteristics is not the key. In Miniconomy the trading is the key, and therefore has realistic situations. Monopolies, price fixing, shortage, threats, robbery and abuse of power occur. Nowadays there is even a political and social structure developed by the players that keeps the players together.
The first rounds were beta testing where bugs were found and loopholes were used to create imbalance in the game. However during this time, the game grew exponentially, reaching 2000 active players and 5000 activated accounts within the first 4 months. The fact that the game grew so quickly and that server costs were rising to facilitate the bandwidth for this increase in players, something needed to be thought of to make sure that the game wasn’t making big losses. To do this, a Premium Member system was developed. The benefits of this were at this time: a daily salary, entry to the Casino, the ability to post smiley’s and use color codes on the forums, the ability to start political parties, and the ability to start companies that could build harbors and banks.
At this time the brothers were frequently approached to ponder a way to apply the game in the school system, and so the brothers applied for different grants that existed for funding the creation of education systems. It wasn’t until they got the Digitale Pioneers grant, a temporary action program that is meant for innovative grass-root Internet initiatives. This fund gives financial and organizational support to small-scale grass root content communities that realize innovative projects in the public domain on the Internet, that they were able to make the Educational Manager, which allowed teachers to monitor the actions of students and give them the tools needed to accurately grade them.
In November 2005, Miniconomy decided to start actively targeting the international markets. To do this an international country was made inside the game where the official language was English and a complete translation of the game was made into English by a volunteer. The country has been growing, with besides a large number of Dutch players, also reaching 150 active players from the United States at the end of round 49 in January 2008. At this moment , 19-04-2010 , the amount of registered players grows every month with an average of 500 players.
Everyone can start an account in Miniconomy. The player starts with 1000 I-Shell, (The Miniconomy Currency) 100 liters of gasoline and 10 skills, with which he or she can build a company that specializes in the production and sale of products. There is also a possibility to build a second or a third company(only available when you are a PM member). You become a Premium Member by buying credits in the credits menu or by buying PM with I-shells from other players.
Miniconomy has rounds which last 3 weeks, with 1 week breaks in between them allowing for new political positions to be chosen and for the implementation of new features.
The main part of Miniconomy is about trading. Players can choose to trade in 29 products and can get their turnover from intercity trade, intracity trade, international trade, and exports. Players can build shops in their hometown, buy shops in other cities or countries, and can dress these up with (animated) banners, increase the marketing so that their shop is more prominent on one of the streets, and add discounts for certain customers. At the end of the round the trade rankings, based on the net worth of players, are used to appoint a winner.
The game was launched in the Netherlands, and was initially only available to Dutch speakers; Miniconomy has a large number of European players compared to those of other continents. The Netherlands and Belgium are the nations with the largest amount of players, but just recently, player totals in North America and Oceania have doubled.
Miniconomy has four virtual countries: Cyberië, Digitalië, Ibisha and Virtua.
Cyberië is a Dutch-speaking country which has 4 cities:
- Eurodam, the capital of Cyberië is a city where you can find all resources
- Kronenburg, known for its large amount of oil
- Roebelarendsveen, known for its iron ore supply
- Zwollar, known for its trees and gold
Digitalië is also a Dutch-speaking country, but it is best known for its criminal activities. The most wanted criminals of Miniconomy live there. Digitalië has two cities:
- El Peso is the Digitalian town where you can find a lot of gold
- Monapoli is the capital of Digitalië and has a lot of diamonds.
The last (but not least) world is called Virtua. Virtua is the newest discovered country, and completely English-speaking. It lies on the river bank of the DuKu and is the most southern country of the Federation. In the past, Virtua was especially known for its neutrality and it's peaceful way of living. This image has been generally degrading since citizens began participating in attacks. The country is governed by the Council, consisting of four Consuls who form the executive part of the government, and the Assembly, which is the legislative part. Virtua is well known for its ban on guns, bombs, and wooden planks, all of which can be used to harm other players.
Virtua is an English-speaking country which has 3 cities:
- Centropolis is the capital of Virtua. Centropolis has a large amount of oil in the ground. The presence of a popular harbour and the trade position with the other Virtuan cities helps boost trade.
- Cashington is about the same size as Nasdaqar. The city especially has a richness of ore, and thus possesses the biggest ore reserve of the country. Cashington has the geographical advantage of being close to its big neighbour Centropolis, which makes it the ideal place to trade.
- Nasdaqar is a city which is particularly known for its forest and ever busy citizens. Nasdaqar is situated in the far corner of Virtua, but the local lumberjacks don't seem to have a problem with that. Where other cities lack trees as a natural resource, Nasdaqar has a natural richness and that works in their advantage. Nice quantities of gold have been found here recently as well.
Ibisha is a Spanish-speaking country which has only 1 city:
- Ibisha is the island in the center of the rivers that flow in between the other three countries. Ibisha is largely dependent on themselves when it comes to trade, but luckily the city has an abundance of resources.
There are 29 products in Miniconomy, which can be classified into five categories, which are resources, basic products, secondary products, illegal goods, and tools. The products that fall into these categories are:
Resources: clay, iron ore, trees, gold, oil, diamond, gunpowder
Basic products: bricks, iron, wood, engine, pump, shovel, saw, gasoline, chips, glass, plastic
Secondary products: bulletproof vest, camera, alarm system, telephone, computer
Tools: machine, oven, screwdriver, diamond drill
Illegal goods: guns, bombs, gunpowder Note: The Illegal Goods aren't illegal in all countries, but all of them are illegal in Virtua.
All products besides resources cost a certain amount of money to produce. Products and resources can be sold in shops to tourists/other players, can be exported (a limited amount per day) or auctioned off. You may only trade illegal goods in Digitalië, therefor these products are less wanted in Cyberie and Virtua.
There are over 25 functions and statuses that players can reach. There are statuses to show the level of trading that the player has achieved, and there are functions which allow players to post in Parliamentary buildings, allow players to buy and sell houses and shops, and some which just show past experience. On the right is an image showing most of the functions and statuses which can be achieved.
Degrees & Statuses
One can get various degrees while playing the game.To get some degrees one may have to go through a course that will give ample knowledge about the degree.
BetaTester -- A player who helped testing new features of Miniconomy.
CBI Special Agent -- Special Agents who are used to fight cheating.
Editor -- A person with the right to post on the News Feed.
Officer -- Police officer, usually employed by the mayor.
Lawyer -- A person who has the right to defend people in law cases.
MP -- Member of Parliament. The Parliament is responsible for making important decisions in Cyberië. MP's are chosen by inhabitants of Cyberië during national elections.
Minister -- Ministers, together with the President, form the Cabinet. They are responsible for the daily government in Cyberië.
President -- The President is chairman of the Cabinet and Parliament in Cyberië. He has a veto right to decide about new law proposals.
Mayor -- Mayor in one of the cities. A player can only be elected mayor three times in a row.
Priest -- An old status. A Priest can symbolically marry and divorce people.
Teacher -- Teachers on Cyberian or Virtuan schools. They can teach bodyguard, officer, lawyer, priest or teacher to other players.
Bodyguard -- Bodyguards protect other people from attacks by standing on the same lot.
Financial Civil Servant -- Financial clerk, in service of the national governments. He has the right to give people fines, and declare them bankrupt.
Real Estate Agent -- Broker. Only REA's are allowed to sell shops and houses. (You need credits to become a REA)
Veteran -- Member of the Council of Veterans, an influential council of the Federals.
King -- King of Digitalië.
Consul -- Nationally elected member of the Virtuan government.
Senator -- Member of the Digitalian government. Senators are chosen by the mayors of the Digitalian cities.
Assistant -- Player which can help people with problems. This profession is visible in the chat, allowing them to help more efficiently.
Recruiter -- Player who tries to get new players in the game.
Round 50 participant -- Player that reached a networth of 5000 ISH in round 50.
Round 75 participant -- Player that reached a networth of 7500 ISH in round 75.
Within Miniconomy, there are several statuses for people. Depending on your merits in the game, your status may rise. The following statuses are distinguished:
Cheater -- A person who is farming (helping yourself with subaccounts) or cheating in a different way.
Citizen -- No special status. When you start an account, you receive this status.
Advanced -- A player becomes ‘advanced’ by making it to the top20 once.
CoI -- Captain of Industry. Status that is achieved by winning one round, or a triple reference in the top10. CoI's are well respected in Cyberië and Virtua.
Super-CoI -- Super Captain of Industry. These players have won three rounds, or have ten references in the top10. The best merchants of Miniconomy.
Governor -- Highest achievable status, only for the Designers and Game Leaders.
Criminal -- Player who has between 3 and 49 criminal points
Gangster -- Player who has between 50 and 149 criminal points
Criminal Mastermind -- Player who has more than 150 criminal points
At the end of each round, elections are held. When a player logs in, there is a special screen which redirects you to the polling station. In this polling station, you can vote on a mayor and, depending on the country you live in, cast a vote for your national government.
Mayors The candidate with the most votes in his town, becomes mayor. It is the mayor's job to make sure there are enough roads, parking lots, parks and monuments to stimulate trading; furthermore the mayor may place export orders for traders in his town. They can then export their goods to the city Warehouse. The mayor can use these products to build more parks, roads, parking lots etcetera. A mayor also has the possibility of subsidizing a certain group of people (the mayors can set a maximum balance where people who are above that maximum, don't receive the subsidy). Personal subsidies, for example for people building harbors and banks, are also often distributed by mayors.
Mayors are also chief of the local police station. They hire officers. As a final responsibility, mayors are seen as the social center of a city. New players can seek advice from a mayor and an answers to their questions.
Virtua Virtua has a form of government based on Consuls. During the elections, votes can be cast on the candidate Consuls. The 4 candidates with the most votes are Consul in the following round. Together they form the Board of Consuls (BoC) and in mutual understanding, a Chairman is chosen.
Cyberië In Cyberië, the land is governed by a parliament and a cabinet. Leading the cabinet is a president. The Parliament is chosen during the elections. Political parties can form a voting list, and from these votes thirteen seats in the parliament are divided. The biggest party usually decides who will become the new President, and this president may select a vice-president. The parliament appoints the Ministers among them. Members of the Parliament are allowed to file Law Proposals and vote for them. They may also force ministers to do a specific task by means of a motion. The Parliament may have Ministers and the (vice-)President step down by means of a Vote of No Confidence.
There are three standard Ministries: Finance, Justice and Education. There can also be chosen to found a Fourt Ministry, which takes on specific tasks desired in that round.
Digitalië Digitalië is some kind of a Constitutional Monarchy. Leading the administration is the King, the daily governing is done by Senators. The King has received the status by shooting his predecessor into bankruptcy. A King can also voluntarily give the status to a new King. Senators are appointed by the mayors of the Digitalian cities. Thus, there are three Senators. There are no elections in Digitalië for the national government. Both Senators and Kings may file Law proposals. Only Senators may vote for these proposals.
Ibisha Ibisha is a dictatorship where the elite hold reign over the country's citizens. The ultimate power of the President and his advisors is unmatched in Miniconomy as it is the only place where one citizen holds power over both the local and national government. The Ibishan Leadership consists of the advisors of the President on areas such as treasury, transport, and education. In the end however, the President has ultimate power.
Miniconomy has a very strong and tight community. Although not all players are socially active, some activities do promote activity between players. The easiest way to sell products for example is through the buildup of network of frequent customers. Although most informal communication takes place via the chat and via MSN, there are some other in-game forms of communication.
Clubs are the internet forums in Miniconomy. Different sub forums are available after someone builds a club and the players joins it. All club owners are automatically administrator of the club, and have the ability to appoint three moderators. Politics and game announcements also take place through clubs, and it is the preferred way of communication in Miniconomy. The possibility of private clubs, protected by a password, also allow for political parties, newspaper publishers, and volunteers to chat within the game without having to resort to outside communication tools.
Miniconomy has one official newspaper, the Miniconomist, which publishes every Wednesday or Thursday in Dutch and English. Besides this newspaper, which has a rotation editor-in-chief system, there are also other newspapers, created by players themselves. All the newspapers can be found by going to the kiosk in Miniconomy.
In the week between rounds, this is the official place to hang around and chat. This is however also the place that people apply for positions for the Cyberian political system. The appointment of the President, Vice-President and ministers takes place here. This is also the place where the ministers usually present there plan for the next round and search for employees.
A forum which mainly has the same function as the Parliament Forum: chatting between the rounds, talking about trade next round and the Consul positions are discussed and divided.
Once every 3 months or so there is a Miniconomeeting. At the moment only Dutch and Belgian players organize these kinds of meetings, of which there have been about 15 now, where the last one took place in Amersfoort in May 2010. Turnout usually ranges from 10 to 20 players who come from all over the two countries, and in cases have to travel 5 hours to get there. Americans will be hosting a Cyber Miniconomeeting on January 1st, 2011 at the website http://miniconomeeting.wetpaint.com/. If there is a large enough turnout for the first one, the organzier, SomeWierdo, will host more Tri-Monthly. Each one will last one week and will let the players trade with their fellow countrymen as well as chat with each other.
Administrative Staff and Volunteers
There are five different administrative and volunteer functions, these are:
Federals and Wouter – These are the game masters and the development team of Miniconomy.
Central Bureau of Investigation agent (CBI) – This is the anti-cheat team of Miniconomy. They check all financial transactions to make sure no one breaks the game rules.
Assistant – These are the administrators of the in-game chat. They also help new players with the game since they are easily recognizable on the chat.
Editor - They are responsible for posting to the Newsfeed as well as adding tweets to twitter.com/miniconomy. Some examples of requests would be announcements by a National Govnernment.
Recruiter – Recruiters are part of a group of volunteers who look into recruiting new players and how to make their arrival as easy as possible.
Expert – These volunteers each have an area of specialty for which players can request more information about.
Veteran – A group of experienced players that work as an advisory team for the Federals and Wouter.
Miniconomy in the classroom
In 2005 the Educational Manager was created, which allows teachers to follow every step of their students’ progress within the game. 18 schools have participated since then, with positive feedback. At the moment is only possible for Dutch schools to use this feature, but the English translations of the Educational Manager are in full progress and the possibility for the use of Miniconomy in the classroom using the English language are expected to be ready after the summer of 2008. The age groups where Miniconomy matches the curriculum are between 12 and 20, due to the general developments that students get in the field of language, economics, communication, and politics. For more information check the Miniconomy homepage.
- Article by the CoS Netherlands about Miniconomy issue number 6 2005
- Entry for the Digital Pioneers Contest for round 3
- Gamecore.nl interview with co-creater Mark Leenards
- Gamer.nl article about Miniconomy
- Article about Miniconomy by the AOB (Dutch General Education Union)
- Miniconomy used in a presentation about Virtual learning in the classroom by KennisNet
- Article about Miniconomy in the NRC Handelsblad
- Economie voor beginners. de Volkskrant (5 April 2003) p. 5M
- Miniconomy Documentation Project A game explanation made by players of the game
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