The economics of gaming

Zebulon Hallman to present at conference

By Danielle Rebel

“League of Legends” and “World of Warcraft” may seem like simple ways to pass the time for most, but for Zebulon Hallman, these online games offer a unique insight as to how the world works.

Hallman, a senior paralegal and economics major, has spent the semester studying the economics of online games. He will be presenting his research at MSUM’s Student Academic Conference on April 15.

“Basically, I’m studying why people play these games, number one, and number two, the multiple structures these games are using,” Hallman said. “It’s the relationship between game developers and players, and how game developers charge players in order to play.”

The presentation, titled, “The Economics of Online Games: Blurring the Lines of Reality,” focuses on the changes that have occurred over the years when it comes to player fees.

“When playing these games, I’ve actually seen different ideas and structures that are happening,” Hallman said, “from subscription-based, to free-to-play, to charging individuals for different items like weapons and armor. I’ve actually seen some new structures now, where it’s kind of a player-driven economy.”

Hallman’s passion for gaming started at a young age, when he began playing the original Nintendo console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Since then, his attention has turned toward online games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Call of Duty.” This dedication to gaming has enabled him to put a great deal of time and effort into the research, and not get tired of the subject.

“I just picked a topic that was fun for me, and hopefully fun for other people,” he said. “I want to inform people about gaming and teach them something new.”

The presentation looks at economics from a different viewpoint, which Hallman said is something he has enjoyed while preparing his research.

“In economics, we normally think in data and numbers, and as of right now there’s not too much data out there about these video games and structures,” Hallman said.

For more information about the Student Academic Conference, visit