What is the best currency in Minecraft?
In the online survival version of Minecraft, there are around 1102 total blocks and items in the 1.16–1.17 version of the game. This study determines which item in Minecraft would be best to use as a currency for trading items between players. It assumes that in this Minecraft game there are multiple players. It also assumes that the players are playing in the 1.16 or 1.17computer version of Minecraft, and that the world the players are using for the game is a survival world rather than a creative world. The sources used to create this study include research on currency from economists and government organizations, opinions on Minecraft from frequent players of the game in the online community, and information on Minecraft from the creators of the game. Using this study, one can relate the information on currency in Minecraft and apply it to the real world.
What makes a good currency? This is a problem that economists have been exploring for a while. In our current world we primarily use government backed paper money, but if we had a brand new world, what would be the ideal currency? In this study, I am travelling into the virtual world of Minecraft to see which blocks and items in the game one should use to trade between other players if they started a new survival world.
Minecraft is a three dimensional action and adventure game that takes place in a virtual world with a rural setting. In the game, players can mine square blocks of many different materials like diamond and gold, fashion them into weapons to fight off monsters in the game, and use them to build structures like houses and buildings. There are three versions of the game, survival, creative, and hardcore. In the creative version of the game, most of the materials that the player needs to build, from iron to diamonds are already in their inventory in an unlimited quantity. There are also very few ways to be killed in the game, and you can fly around your world. In the survival version of the game you have to mine for materials, you can be killed easily, and you can only walk around the world. There is also a version of the game called “hardcore mode” but we won’t focus on it for the purpose of this paper. Minecraft allows people to log on and play together online. In this study, I am trying to find which item in the game should be used as currency in a survival mode game with multiple players who want to create an economy and trade items with each other.
As said in the abstract, there are around 1,102 items and blocks that are obtainable to players in Minecraft survival mode 1.16–1.17. This leaves a vast choice of items for one to choose as a currency. I should note that in Minecraft there already is a currency in a way. The game features a group of non-player characters called villagers who have medieval-like professions and trade with each other and players. For example, If a player wants some meat to consume, he can go to a butcher villager and obtain some. Villagers use emeralds as currency for trading. Wandering traders (who are like villagers but they travel around to trade with players) also use emeralds to trade. This begs the question, if villagers and wandering traders are using emeralds as currency for their economy, why shouldn’t players? Minecraft allows players to obtain emeralds from villagers by giving them items in exchange. Players can do this infinitely, meaning that if you and your fellow players chose emeralds as the currency you would use to trade with each other, there would be constant inflation because anytime someone would trade with a villager there would be more emeralds in supply. In addition to that, emeralds can be obtained very quickly by players. For example, an apprentice-level cartographer villager will give a player an emerald for 11 glass panes. Since you can make glass easily with sand (which is extremely abundant in most Minecraft worlds) a player could obtain many emeralds very quickly and crash the players’ economy.
There is another currency in Minecraft called mine coins. This currency is only for players buying items from the game itself like skins and mods which cannot be bought any other way. Because of that, mine coins are not relevant to this study.
As I expected, there aren’t many scholarly papers done by economics researchers on the topic of currency in Minecraft. I decided to look for characteristics of a good currency and apply it to the Minecraft world. According to economists from the St.Louis Federal Reserve, there are a few main characteristics of what makes a good currency, and they are:
- Durability- The currency chosen has to be fairly durable and easy to take care of.
- Portability- The currency has to be easily portable.
- Divisibility- The currency should be able to be divided up into smaller denominations.
- Uniformity- All of the currency has to look the same and be the same.
- Limited supply- The supply of the currency cannot be increasing rapidly.
- Acceptability- People have to recognize the currency as valid.
Using these characteristics I will be able to determine which items in the Minecraft world would make a good currency.
I hypothesize that gold ore would be the best currency for an inter-player minecraft economy. In order to prove this, I made a chart using the characteristics of currency above. I added other characteristics that aren’t necessary, but that would be preferred for a currency such as intrinsic value. The purpose of this is to use information from the Minecraft official website and prominent players in the online Minecraft community to determine which blocks and items are the best for each characteristic. This method is not perfect though, and there are a few reasons for this. The first is the issue of divisibility. In Minecraft, you can’t cut a block or an item in half and have it be uniform. There is no such thing as half of a block of diamond. Because of this we can’t use divisibility as a characteristic, but we also can’t want to use the rarest item in Minecraft because while it has a very limited supply, it would be indivisible and therefore the currency have too much power and be too limited. Instead of looking for the most rare items in Minecraft, I decided to look for items that are Finite in the minecraft world, and items where a large supply cannot be uncovered at once. This way the currency will devalue itself slowly overtime and there is no way for players to make more of it.
I would also add that the currency chosen should generate in all biomes. For example, sponge would be a good currency for Minecraft. It is finite and rare enough. The only problem is that it is solely found in monuments that lie in the ocean. If a group of players made sponge their currency, everyone in the game would fight and kill each other for land near the ocean. For a peaceful functioning economy we would have to find a block or item that is rare but findable in all biomes of the game. I also want to have a currency that players can find relatively early in the game. It should be a currency that while being rare, players can find with simple tools in the first few days of the game. For example, the dragon egg is the most rare item in the game, but in order to obtain it a player has to go though a long quest and kill a dragon. Let’s look at our new list of characteristics for our currency. I’ve also decided to take acceptability out of the equation because every item in Minecraft could be accepted by a group of players.
- It has to be relatively rare.
- It has to be finite.
- It has to be available in all biomes.
- It has to be uniform.
- It has to be durable.
- It should hold intrinsic value.
- Has to be findable by the players within the first few days of the game.
To find the perfect currency for our game, I made a chart of finite items and then added other columns and checked if they met the other characteristics or not.
Here are the results of the chart:
To measure rarity I used the Minecraft website which will say how common an item or block is. It also tells where it can be found so I used that information in the “All biomes?” column. Almost every Item in minecraft is uniform. To determine durability, I used whether or not the item can be destroyed by lava. The Minecraft website also tells the uses for a block or item, so I determined the intrinsic value by seeing if the item was just for decoration, or if it has other uses. In order for an item to be simple to maintain on my chart, it has to not require going to the nether world ( the underworld in Minecraft), using silk touch (a special type of enchantment for tools), or going to the End ( another world where the players slays the ender dragon).
As you can see from the chart, gold ore is the only finite material in Minecraft that meets all of our qualifications. This means that based on our qualifications, gold ore would make the best currency in an inter-player survival game of Minecraft. There are a few assumptions in this study important of note. This study implies that the players of the Minecraft game discussed in this paper are playing in the survival mode and the 1.16–1.17 versions of minecraft. It also implies that players will accept any currency that meets the qualification discussed in the methodology section. It implies that the players are not in peaceful mode ( a mode where monsters/hostile mobs don’t exist with the acception of the ender dragon.) It implies that the players aren’t using any significant modifications to the game. Lastly, it implies that the players want to have a currency early on in the game, and that they do not want the currency to be controlled by a central player.
How could we relate the results of this study to the real world? Well it would be tough because many of the qualifications for our ideal Minecraft currency relate to the game Minecraft rather than our world. In our world we have governments control the money supply rather than the citizens. There is however, one way to relate this to the real world. Cryptocurrency. Gold ore and the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin both have similar characteristics.
- They both have a finite supply.
- They are both mined, and more of it is added to the supply when people mine it.
- They both act as a decentralized currency.
As this is my first economics paper and I would not my consider myself an economist, I wouldn’t want to imply that cryptocurrency would be the best currency in a free market world just because gold ore is the best in Minecraft, but perhaps an economist could make a conclusion about this.
In summary, if a group of Minecraft players wanted a currency for inter-player trading in the survival version of the 1.16–1.17 Minecraft game, gold ore would be the best currency to use. I came to this conclusion by using the qualifications for a good currency by the federal reserve, added qualifications for a good currency in Minecraft, and saw which items and block in Minecraft met those qualifications. I am not necessarily sure what impact this discovery could have on the real world, however I’m sure someone could relate this finding to the use of decentralized cryptocurrency. The next time you play Minecraft with your friends, try gold ore as an inter-player currency.
Andrew, Andrew, narr. Minecraft Xbox 360 PS3 Best Currency for Servers. Youtube,
Best Studio, Best Of, narr. How to Keep a Stable Economy in Minecraft. Youtube,
Minecraft. Accessed July 28, 2020. https://minecraft.fandom.com/wiki/
U.S Government. Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Geere, Duncan. “Taking Inventory: Emerald.” Minecraft. https://www.minecraft.net/
pt-br/article/taking-inventory — emerald.