Blizzard Entertainmentâ€™s Diablo 3 is particularly foreboding as virtual fantasy worlds go. In this multiplayer online game played by millions, witch doctors, demon hunters, and other character types duke it out in a war between angels and demons in a dark world called Sanctuary.
The world is reminiscent of Judeo-Christian notions of hell: fire and brimstone, with the added fantasy elements of supernatural combat waged with magic and divine weaponry.
And within a fairly straightforward gaming framework, virtual â€œgoldâ€ is used as currency for purchasing weapons and repairing battle damage. Over time, virtual gold can be used to purchase ever-more resources for confronting ever-more dangerous foes.
But in the last few months, various outposts in that world â€” Silver City and New Tristram, to name two â€” have borne more in common with real world places like Harare, Zimbabwe in 2007 or Berlin in 1923 than with Danteâ€™s Inferno.
A culmination of a series of unanticipated circumstances â€” and, finally, a most unfortunate programming bug â€” has over the last few weeks produced a new and unforeseen dimension of hellishness within Diablo 3: hyperinflation.