Here is an interesting (and kind of long) Washington Post article about economics in gaming:
Since it's pretty long I'll give you the jist. Economic Academics are using data from games such as Eve Online and Second Life in order to test and explore economic theory. Eve Online is a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) in which players explore a large outer-space universe as a character that has a particular profession (miner, explorer, manufacturer, etc.) Because there are these "natural resources" that need to be mined and sold and manufactured in the game, the economists can study how players abide or don't abide to general theories of supply and demand. Moreover, the economists can study what happens when a shock to the system occurs as the programmers can manipulate amounts of "resources" in the game. It is a great tool for economists because they can use the entirety of data rather than taking a sample from the real-world. Moreover, its actual people instead of a computer simulation so it accounts for irrational behavior. So now gaming companies are hiring economists to better shape their games, and economists are looking to gaming companies to study their data. The only struggle is that game companies don't want to tailor/change their game dynamics to satisfy the experiments of the economists, because they still want the games to be fun.
But this is just another cool way that gaming has real-world benefits and applications, and games have their place in multiple academic disciplines.