Here's a thread to discuss politics, culture, socioeconomics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics in virtual fields (with an extension to board games, if necessary). There are a surprising amount of similarities between virtual reality and real life once you bring the minutia into it all, raising the question— can we truly predict real events based off virtual simulations?
Gaia Online suffered extreme hyperinflation before its untimely unofficial demise. How did it happen, and how did people respond?
Back in 2006, World of Warcraft gave the world a stunningly and disturbingly realistic look into human reactions to pandemics— so much so that academic papers were written about the event.
EVE Online has a player-driven economy that extends into the real world. So when huge battles erupt, there are real-world consequences.