Digital Gentrification – Video Games Are Too Real

Everyone has a harp and it’s fucking annoying.

Final Fantasy XIV is a weird game. It’s an MMORPG with a strange economy. Almost everything is worthless. It’s barely worth collecting and selling items. But – you need to if you want the most important thing. Real Estate.

Final Fantasy XIV has artificially limited real estate plots in each region. So on a server where 5,000 users play, there may only be 2,500 houses to buy. The problem is, users can buy multiple houses. So you have these robber baron types buying up all the houses. They can’t really resell them (though they did figure out how to do this for real world money), so they just hoard them. They keep all the houses, and keep them empty, as a a status symbol and to deprive other players of home ownership.

Digital conspicuous wealth.

So some players have taken to lower populated servers and moved far away from traditional population centers in order to have a chance to afford home ownership. The problem is, when they get out there, they find that these homes too are already owned. Some of the people have bought 30 houses just because they “liked the quiet” of not having other players around them.

This is a video game. None of this is real. All of the scarcity is fabricated. It’s all just lines of code. There are no resources that are hard to find or rare. And yet, there is a class of haves and have-nots. And that brings us to the main point I wanted to make here.

Look at my wonderful little house. Stay out peasant.

Real estate developers in the real world will NEVER build more supply than demand. There will always be a housing shortage. Why? Because it keeps property values high, it protects people’s investments, and no one is going to spend real money for a customer that doesn’t exist yet.

The most shocking thing about all of this is the bootlickers in forums and threads. They claim their homes were “hard earned” and that other players need to just “work harder” and get their house like they did. They don’t understand that those homes literally don’t actually exist. These bootlicking shitheads look at the people without a home as having some kind of moral failing instead of understanding that it’s an artificial resource issue.

The fact that the above paragraph could be said about the real world AND this stupid fucking video game makes me unreasonably upset.

There are tons of Final Fantasy XIV cribs editions on YouTube.

Last year, after a couple years of upset player backlash, Square Enix made some changes to the real estate economy that basically limited each player to one personal home, and one home for their “company”. No longer do you have users hoarding 28 homes to literally keep people away from them. No longer do you have people hoarding multiple houses just to flex on other people.

Reality isn’t quite as easy to update with a patch, but local laws and zoning ordinances are kind of like video game patches. There are ways to solve the inherent problems that exist in housing inequality and reduce landlord fuckery.

Here in Tempe, we have an epic shitlord by the name of Tim Wright who owns over 100 houses. His behavior would be unacceptable in a fucking Japanese anime video game, and yet, he’s allowed to do this bullshit in real life with real people.

Everything I’ve learned about city zoning I learned from Maxis.

I have no real solutions other than advocating for radical change. It’s just been a minute since I’ve gotten to write about landlords and their bullshit and I think it’s super interesting that we get to hash out real world issues in video games. There’s a lot we can learn here. I just hope we learn it.

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