From Timothy Burke’s “The Cookie Monster Economy and ‘Guild Socialism’” (Terra Nova: 2 May 2008):
Mechanisms of exchange have evolved in graphical, commercial virtual worlds from some remarkably crude beginnings. Veterans of the early days of the first Asheron’s Call may remember that at one point, there was no mechanic for secure trade between players. You could hand someone else an item, and then wait and hope for payment in kind. Players responded to that certainty by trying to improvise a reputational culture, including players who built reputations as a trustworthy mobile escrow (both players in a trade would hand their items to the escrow player)., who would then verify that the trade met both of their expectations and distribute the items to their new owners.