A single form of currency is accepted universally worldwide, regardless of political, social, or technological differences. No matter whether you're dealing with cavemen who speak in broken English or beings from another planet, your money is always good at face value. An almost ubiquitous trope in RPGs and in most other games involving some kind of economy.
The currency in question often has a generic name that implies no place of origin (often just "gold" in fantasy and almost always "credits" in science fiction) and as far as is observable by the player, is spontaneously generated in indefinite quantities within the game world rather than being minted or printed by a bank or government. Despite the fluid nature of this currency, it is seemingly immune to basic economic forces like inflation, supply and demand, devaluation, and Gresham's Law. Also, when the currency is gold, people will have absolutely no problem carrying large amount of it with them, even when the gold would be heavier than themselves.
The primary Global Currency Exception is when the designers will insert a region where it isn't accepted in to add difficulty to the later parts of the game.
This is an Acceptable Break From Reality— imagine how taxing it would be to spend time in video games changing from currency to currency. It can be justified by an Energy Economy, or coins minted out of valuable metal.
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Woolongs in Cowboy Bebop, accepted throughout the Solar System.
Also used in Space Dandy, where they would appear to be accepted throughout the galaxy.
Likewise Wongs, accepted throughout the galaxy in Outlaw Star.
Berries in One Piece. Justified, since their world is dominated by the World Government, which controls nearly every country on the planet to various extents. The one exception is during the Skypiea saga, which takes place on an island in the sky which the World Government is not aware of. Instead they use a currency called "Extol". 1 Beri is worth 10,000 Extol.
In With Strings Attached, the Baravadans don't care that the four are using Ketafan money. That's because the continent is an anarchy, and the inhabitants seem to use money more out of habit than necessity.
On the other hand, the Hunter's world is more normal, and the big man expects to have to melt down the money he brought with him to C'hou, lest he be arrested. The four set him straight.
Although the issue is not explicitly raised when the four have to use their C'hovite currency in the shop at the Inn at the Gate, the Hunter notes that the shop caters to "unprepared, and shall we say, hurried travelers," so presumably they're used to unfamiliar coinage.
Sonic X: Dark Chaos has Demon kredits, the monetary system of the Demon Empire. Even large swaths of the Angel Federation - sworn enemies of the Demons - use a version of kredits for transactions.
In I Am Skantarios, a young Skantarios is very angry that his nation has fallen so low as to use the currency of one of its enemies, the florin (a Gameplay and Story Integration moment, since that's Total War currency unit). Later on after the Byzantine Empire is back on its feet (and in fact kicking the ass of everything in its way), an older and wiser Skantarios keeps it out of convenience.
The gamebook series Lone Wolf somewhat subverts this by having multiple currencies. However, they have fixed exchange rates and are almost always given and used in multiples equal to an integer amount of gold crowns (the protagonist's "home" currency). For instance, 4 lunes equal 1 gold crown, so most amounts of lune given are multiples of 4, and the exchange rate is usually given, as in "32 Lune (8 Gold Crowns)". Also, 4 lunes take up the same amount of inventory space as 1 gold crown in the given rules despite lunes being silver, so the game implies that silver, gold, and iron all have the same value! However, in a few areas, the currency you use for something matters a lot.
Meanwhile, the open-world gamebook The Fabled Lands subverts it: trying to pay the Fair Folk with human money will result in you being unceremoniously picked up by a horde of terrifying goblins and hauled into the underworld, never to be seen again upon the surface.
In David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, the Chinese yuan is now the global currency.
Likewise, the Imperial credit found in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, which was usable throughout the Galactic Empire, and Foundation dollars later in the series.
Discworld has many currencies, but outside the Agatean Empire, the Ankh-Morpork dollar is accepted everywhere "because Ankh-Morpork is the only place with anything worth buying". Areas like Lancre and the Chalk don't seem to bother having their own currency; if you're buying something from outside the area you use AM$, and within the area you barter.
Played with in Star Wars books: There are Republic credits and Imperial Credits. At one point in The Thrawn Trilogy Luke needs to help two arguing people settle a dispute and has to ask for the exchange rate between the two currencies.
In William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy the globe works on a digital economy with various currencies, however a global black market physical currency exists in the form of New Yen. Apparently they are very illegal in Japan.
Last Legionary: Credits crop up as a Galactic standard currency in Douglas Hill's scifi series.
The Left Behind series uses this. With the one-world government being set up, Nicolae Carpathia standardizes the currency of the world, first reducing it to the Euro for Europe and Africa, the Yen for Asia, and the Dollar for the Americas and Australia, and then finally reducing it to just the dollar, renamed the Nick (after himself). It quickly allows for him to get the world's governments under his control with a semi-communist approach to government.
Eventually, the Mark of Loyalty utilizes a credit system that makes all cash simply pieces of paper or bits of metal, and the currency is done away with.
In Kingdom Come, we are given a little quip about how the protagonists are wondering what currency the Millennial Kingdom will be run on, but the mystery is never shared with the readers. Though it appears there is no currency, and everyone gives and does out of the goodness of their hearts.
Toyed with in His Dark Materials when Lyra tries to use a solid gold coin, standard currency in her world, to buy a chocolate bar in Will's. The cashier is somewhat confused, but accepts it.
Babylon 5: While each race has its own currency, the human Credit and Centauri Ducat are the only currencies known to be in use aboard the station. The former is due to the station being built and run by EarthGov, and the latter because a) the Centauri Republic is an old, well-established star nation and b) as a hard currency backed by a precious metal instead of the electronic-based Credit it's more difficult to track when used in shady deals.
The Federation in the Star Trek franchise use credits, but once you get to the outer reaches, everyone prefers gold pressed latinum, particularly the Ferengi, due in part to the fact that latinum can't be made by a replicator.
In the Sid and Marty Krofft series H.R. Pufnstuf, the people (or whatever...) of Living Island use "buttons" as currency.
The Sliders crew didn't seem to have much of a problem with spending cash for supplies across dimensions, except in the first episode, where their attempts to use normal money instead of that particular planet's red-tinted "commiebucks" almost get them killed.
Justified in that they were just moving to alternate versions of the same place, so more often then not dollars would work fine. However they have used silver (and presumably gold) if California isn't American.
The "dollarpound" (or "quidbuck", if you're in a hurry) from Red Dwarf, although early episodes used pounds.
Firefly primarily makes use of Alliance credits, though this is because the Alliance controls most of the human-inhabited space. There is also mention of people trading in platinum instead of credits, with Simon mentioning the different values of the medicine in his bag in terms of both credits and platinum. Dollars and cents are mentioned in the episode Jaynestown (In the Ballad of Jayne Cobb)
In Revelation 13:16-17, as part of the tribulation facing mankind in the End Times, the Beast will force everyone to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and no one will be able to conduct business without the mark. This "Mark of the Beast" has been subject to much speculation. One interpretation is that it's not a literal mark on the hand or forehead, but a symbol that has to appear in some manner in all monetary transactions. A worldwide single currency would fit the bill for such a symbol.
The mark is usually interpreted as a sort of chip that is inserted under the skin, and is to be used as an electronic form of ID and credit card. As a matter of fact, the Verichip Corporation had developed such a chip (for storing and sharing medical information, so far), which is usually inserted in the upper right arm, between the shoulder and elbow.
Or perhaps an imperialist country force all other countries in the world to be their pawn (right hand) or embrace their ideology wholesale (forehead). Those who don't will be slapped with trade embargo (no business). Since the world is always plagued by one trade-warring empire or another (Roman, British, American, etc), perhaps The World Is Always Doomed.
In Dungeons & Dragons, the base unit of currency everywhere is the gold piece (g.p.). Acquire gold pieces from a street vendor in Greyhawk, and you can spend those same coins in a shop half way around the world without anyone batting an eye. Some DMs attempt to justify this, and the Dungeon Master's Guide has recommendations for different monetary systems that may come up. As one might expect, most Dms just use gold pieces.
Although currencies are generally global (probably based on the intrinsic value of the material itself — the weight of a gp varies by edition, typically 10 gp per pound in older editions and 50 gp per pound in newer), this isn't necessarily true from one world to the next. The world of Krynn in the "Dragonlance" setting uses steel pieces rather than gold. The change in the weight of the coin seems largely to address certain logistical challenges in hauling large sums out of dungeons.
The 4th Edition rulebook explains that those "GP", "SP", etc. were the coins used by the last great empire to fall, which makes them acceptable in most lands formerly ruled by it.
That explanation itself is a prime example of Artistic License - Economics, as a fallen empire's currency would be worth practically nothing. Without a governing body to back the currency and give the people faith in it, the coins would fall to being worth only their material wealth. The only reason old coins today are worth anything is because of collectors, and none of them are accepted as currency.
As noted below under Planescape: Torment, in the Planescape setting silver and gold are accepted across multiple planes of existence because they're silver and gold, which even the gods value. If you start getting fussy about whose face is stamped on the coins, then you're letting money walk out on you. Various fan sites (including the once very popular Mimir site) presented possible extra currencies with varying exchange rates around the planes in an attempt to make things more interesting.
In Classic Traveller, the Imperial credit was accepted throughout the interstellar Imperium, which was made up of thousands of planets in an area hundreds of light years across.
And a mild aversion: Physical money in the Imperium has the bank of issuance printed on it. If one sector's economy starts to collapse, the Imperium can simply declare money from that area invalid, thus firewalling the problem.
The Star Ace game featured a not-all-the-way-to-war between the Empire and the Alliance. (It's a game from the 80s, so just think original Star Wars.) Both use the same currency. Granted, this is a game setting where all money is solid metal coins, so as long as everyone agrees on how valuable the metal is ....
In Cyberpunk 2020 the most common worldwide currency (and the only one mentioned in the base materials) is eurodollar, commonly shortened to euro. Funny In Perspective.
Long before the advent of the euro, Real Life currency traders used the term "eurodollar" to mean U.S. dollars invested in Eurpoean banks.
There is a throwaway line in the CP2020 core rulebook about 2 US dollars equaling 1 eurobuck (eb). Meanwhile, the Pacific Rim sourcebook implies yen and yuan are still minted but East Asia still recognizes eurobucks as the fiat currency.
In Shadowrun the currency universally accepted in North America and most countries in the world is nuyen (new yen).
Played with 7th Sea. The Vendel have introduced the Guilder, a universal currency. It is also the first paper currency, enabling people to carry more of it at once. All rule-supported prices are listed in Guilders. However, the Vesten and Vodacce, the Vendel's most bitter enemies, refuse to accept the Guilder in order to undermine the Vendel.
Early editions of BattleTech had this happen on two levels; on the first, most planets in the Inner Sphere rarely printed their own money, and instead used the "House Bills" printed by their ruling Successor State. One notable exception to this was Solaris VII, a Bread and Circuses type of world centered around Gladiator Games. There is common mention of 'Solaris scrip,' suggesting that there was enough of a market in betting to support the value of said scrip.
On a far grander level, there is the Comstar Bill, or C-Bill, which is issued by the secretive and technophilic Comstar, redeemable for one second of transmission time on their hyperpulse generators. The ubiquity of Comstar, their HPGs, and the necessity for rapid interstellar communication means that C-Bills are distinctly favored over the aforementioned House Bills and are accepted by practically everyone involved in some sort of trade. The number of sourcebooks printing equipment, service, and Battlemech costs in C-Bills should say something about the currency's influence in the setting. House Bills, by contrast, are given an exchange rate with C-Bills and each other in only a handful of the sourcebooks.
In Fading Suns the emperor issues "firebirds" minted from a metal only found on the Imperial Capital. Most Houses also issue their own currencies that are usually exchangeable on a 5:1 or 10:1 basis.
Most banks in Eclipse Phase use the purely electronic "credit", though there are some minor factions that issue their own currencies, and others such as Titan and the Anarchists do without money entirely.
In Mutant Chronicles there are six major currencies, as the five corporations and the Brotherhood all mint their own. However, Brotherhood "Cardinal's Crowns" are the de facto universal currency. All inter-corporate deals are made in Crowns, and all stores will have prices marked in Crowns and the currency of the corporation which owns the store. Conversely, no-one outside Cybertronic will accept Cybertronic's piastres, and no-one except a few Mishima-owned banks will touch Mishiman dubloons.
In Exalted, jadenote Not actually the same jade as Real Life. have the Real Life economic properties of gold. The Realm has its reserve of jade and prints money with it as the backing. You never actually buy things with physical jade, unless you're embargoed by the Realm. Jade is accepted nearly everywhere in Creation, even in areas fully independent from Realm's iron-grip. Other currencies do exist (salt, seashells), and they can be converted to Realm's money, generally at a rate that will never allow them to truly prosper.
Between The Fair Folk though, the global currency is mortals. Or rather, the mortals' dreams, represented by their Virtues trait. The Fair Folk can trivially create gold and other non-magical prized substance, and the slave trade between The Guild and The Fair Folk is one of the most profitable trade in Creation.
In GURPS, while all prices are listed in dollars, the Basic Set does mention that this is just a convention to make determining costs easier and encourages game masters to change to authentic currency when it would make sense or add realism. The Pulp Weapons sourcebooks even give prices in authentic 1930s dollar amounts and gives a quick formula for changing prices in other sourcebooks to match the inflation in modern days.
In d20 Modern, money is abstracted to a "Purchasing Power" mechanic, to represent physical cash, credit cards, checks, and so on. There's never a problem with using purchasing power, regardless of where you're physically located.
Most Warhammer 40K works use "credits", though given the problematic nature of interplanetary commerce it's safe to assume they use local currencies. Fanon in particular replaces the gold coins of fantasy with "thrones".
In Myriad Song the Imperial Monetary Note is the standard measurement of wealth accepted just about anywhere, even though the Syndicate that originally printed them has fallen and the Remanence that still prints them has virtually no allies. A number of independent worlds have their own scrip that is rarely any good beyond that planet, and the Concord and Solar Creed are both attempting an Energy Economy (with a 100:1 exchange rate with the Note).
Credits (Cr.) is a common currency on certain games, such as Gran Turismo.
In Gran Turismo, the Cr. varies between regions because it's to simulate the local region coin. In the US, credits have their ammount of 0s lowered in order to simulate the dollar (The same thing happens in the Europe version). As such, in the US and PAL versions, the player will start with 10.000 Cr., while in the Japanese Version however he will start with 1.000.000 Cr..
Gold coins in most fantasy games. Now, this is justified as long as the materials of the coins are intrinsically valuableto all sides concerned. Historically, coins have often been regarded as conveniently pre-measured amounts of gold or silver: such old units as shekel, mina and talent were measurements of weight at least as much as currencynote See also: 1 (British) Pound sterling=1 pound of sterling silver. An unknown coin might be accepted after a trip to the scales, without regard to what shape it's in or whose portrait is stamped on it. A well-trusted coin would simply assure the recipient that it wasn't made of cheap alloy.
Planescape: Torment deserves special notice as using copper as the base of the economy... and doing so across multiple planes of existence.
Explained in the Planescape tabletop RPG books that copper, silver, and gold coins are... well, they're copper, silver, and gold. Money's flowing to and from everywhere, especially through Sigil, so that it's pointless to even try to care about the face stamped on the coinage. Thus, it's advised in the books that while it may be fun to hassle players once or twice about how the coins from their homeworld are "too small," and given a surcharge by greedy merchants, for the most part it should be taken as given that your money will be good anywhere.
The most common coinage in the Celestial Planes is a particular type of silver coin minted on Mount Celestia (oddly shaped, but still counts as a "normal" silver coin). The Lower Planes have an additional type of currency: souls. Trapped in black gems. Exchange rates are variable.
In Real Life, even when coins were treated this way, kingdoms in the habit of minting their own currency might have laws requiring people to change other kinds of currency in for their own. This had the advantages of keeping locally minted money in circulation, and of being very profitable for the moneychangers. Also, this did nothing to keep the prices of goods stable, so it solves none of the "immunity to economic forces" issues. During the days of the gold standard real wages were actually wildly more variable than today because national currency was constantly being artificially revalued to match the global standard.
They also tended to inflate their currency by replacing part of the weight with something else.
Gil or GP (depending on the translation) in the Final Fantasy games and many other games by Square Enix and its predecessors.
Exception: Final Fantasy VII uses gil everywhere but in Gold Saucer, which uses GP (won on the various rides, or bought from shady dealers).
Exception: Final Fantasy XI uses gil in most parts of Vanadiel except for some parts of the eastern empire of Aht Urghan. Many transactions that need to be made here can only be done with imperial currency and not gil.
It's done again in Wings of The Goddess, where most transactions in the Crystal War are done with Allied Notes, which are pretty much war bonds.
It should be noted that Gil started as Jeuno's currency, and only became the standard currency in Quon and Mindartia (the continents the game mainly takes place, aside from Aht Urghan) 20 years or so prior during the Crystal War. Bastok, San d'Oria, and Windurst had their own currency, Byne, Noit, and Mumu respectively.
Rupees in The Legend of Zelda series, although in that game you're usually only in one country for the duration of the game, so it's not as noticeable. Still, the games that do take place in different countries still use rupees for currency.
An exception is in Oracle of Seasons, which features an underground area called Subrosia. Rupees are useless there. The only currency usable there is Ore Chunks.
Not Oracle of Ages, however, in which Labrynna continues to use the same currency with no alterations whatsoever over a period of a few hundred years.
"Credits" in Star Wars games and many other science fiction games.
Imperial Credits are used EVERYWHERE in Star Wars: Empire at War. Even planets without populations and no obvious source of income (Endor, Yavin IV, Hoth, etc.) pay to the player the same type of Credits.
Ragnarok Online also uses Zenny. Even odder here as as the player is able to visit at least two different neighboring nations.
The game series Fallout has different uses of this trope:
The first Fallout featured bottle caps as the currency of choice in the wasteland. Done for stylistic reasons, although the later supplemental Fallout Bible provided a justification in that they the were backed by the water merchants (who controlled the most valuable commodity in the game's post apocalyptic world).
In the sequel Fallout 2, which takes place 80 years later and features a much more civilized post-apocalyptic world, bottle caps have become obsolete and have been replaced by generic "money" (later established as being New California Republic Dollars) used by everyone, including factions opposed to the New California Republic.
Since Fallout Tactics took place in a completely different part of the former United States (the midwest rather than the west coast) it featured ring pulls as the local informal currency.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout 3 returned to bottle caps, despite taking place in different regions (Texas and the District of Columbia, respectively), with no real justification other than Rule of Cool and due to bottle caps having become a signature element of the series.
In Fallout: New Vegas, each of the major factions use a different currency, although bottle caps returns as the default and most commonly used one. In fact, NCR dollars and Legion coinage (the aureus and denarius) can't actually be used as currency: you need to exchange them for caps if you want to use them in a purchase, which is done by treating NCR and Legion money as a miscellaneous item that you sell to the merchants in return for usable money.
The casinos however will accept and pay out NCR and legion money, though at lower rates than the 1:1 for caps. Since these are fixed rates and the casinos don't run out of chips this can be useful for characters with low barter to launder faction money into caps.
Septims in The Elder Scrolls series, though this is more logical than most examples of the tropes; the Cyrodiilic Empire actually governs the entire game world, and mints the coins itself.
This trope was also lampshaded in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The nomadic barbarians known as Ashlanders considered the player character to be a fool for trading them useful items in exchange for small chunks of metal with no practical use. Of course, they still ask for them too (of course they do — they know you aren't the only fool around!).
This is somewhat more noticeable in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where Windhelm, the seat of the Stormcloak rebellion, will still accept the Septim coinage at the exact same prices as everywhere else. Perhaps justified in how Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak is not the kind of guy who would want to mess with the economy.
All nations in Squaresoft'sSecret of Mana operate on a single currency, even though two are at war with each other and a few others are cut off from conventional trade routes.
In the Spiritual SequelSecret of Evermore, the four regions that make up Evermore have their own currency and will not accept money from other lands. However, the exchange rate between currencies remains fixed throughout the game.
Red Dead Redemption: The only currency in the game is dollars, even though part of the map is in Mexico.
Subverted in Shin Megami Tensei. During the first half of the game, which takes place in Tokyo, you use Yen. But when a cataclysmic event throws you into an After the End future, you discover that in this Scavenger World, your Yen are as worthless as the paper they're printed on.
The replacement currency, Macca, is not only legal tender on Earth, but in the Abyss as well (in SMT2). It's quite justified, though: it's the preferred currency of demons. Since Earth is at the time of each game suffering from large demonic invasions, Macca becomes a hot commodity. It's because of this than both the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado and Tokyo in Shin Megami Tensei IV both use Macca for transactions. Curiously, Macca's minted exclusively by Lucifuge Refocale, one of Lucifer's minions. Money might not be the root of all evil, but...
In SaGa Frontier, "credits" are used as a universal currency, but you are also able to buy gold bars. There is a famous glitch that lets you make obscene amounts of money through manipulation of the gold market, dubbed "Takeonomics" after its discoverer.
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom ignores this trope by giving the player gold at several turns... but making the gold almost useless. On the few occasions you do need money, the gold needs to be traded in for proper currency.
Avoided in Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle, where in addition to gold coins, each of the three cities featured in the game have their own currency. While some merchants accept payment in more than one currency, none accept all, and some characters exchange the various currencies at variable rates.
Iolo: I can understand the whole laundering your magically counterfeit coins, but why are we exchanging them for gold instead of guilders?
Steve the Avatar: Iolo, after all the money we just dumped into the economy, the Guilder is about to go to shit.
That's not the first time the Avatar wrecked the economy, either. In Ultima VI you can dump a ridculous amount of gold into the economy, which you received from an extradimensional entity with very limited understanding of monetary value. (You share the contents of a useless book of mantras, Xorinia gives you all the gold your party can carry, literally. Xorinia is firmly convinced you made the losing deal.)
Ultima VI subverts the trope a little, in that there is a Royal Mint, where you hand in gold nuggets and receive gold coins (and a pinch on the behind from the teller).
In the Ultima VII LP, Steve herself lampshades the vulnerabilities of the Britannian economy:
Steve: The good thing about money in this kingdom is it's all unmarked and unsecured. Nobody cares if I took it from somebody, or got it from an extradimensional entity, or transmuted it from lead, doesn't matter. How does this kingdom even function?"
"Munny" in the Kingdom Hearts series's multiverse-spanning economy. Its name appears to be a reference to Winnie the Pooh, in which Pooh consistently spells honey as "hunny" on his various jars and pots. Makes sense when you think that almost all the stores are run by the same pan-dimensional species of unbelievably masterful blacksmiths
Sierra's Space Quest series had "Buckazoids", a currency that was accepted not only everywhere in the universe, but everywhere in time when one of the games sent the hero time traveling.
In Mother 3/Earthbound 2, there is no currency for half of the game, and trade relies on bartering for items with things like rotten éclairs. After the midway point, money is introduced into the world. This may also be commentary about the evils of money, since this currency is introduced by the antagonists, and it is at this time when the game's world begins to get screwed up.
Earthbound uses dollars for every single place you go. This seems silly to use a dollar in a foreign country on a mountaintop, a village in a swamp, or even in a tiny village in an underworld full of dinosaurs!
There's only one shop in the game where dollars aren't used, and that's in Tenda Village. The shopkeeper trades items for Horns of Life.
At least the Mountaintop country's store specifically advertises accepting $ Dollars. It's good business to cater to those tourists, you know!
Bolts in Ratchet & Clank. Even when Ratchet goes over to another galaxy, they still use Bolts as currency.
Civilization universally uses "Gold." However, techs, units, etc., get more expensive as time goes on (i.e. inflation), and indeed "inflation" is a game mechanic in Civilization IV to keep your economy from getting too big.
Of course, a quick look at history shows that gold-standard economies experience very little inflation and prices in industrialized economies drop very rapidly without it.
After construction the New League of Nations, its Secretary-General can put up a vote for global currency, which increases commerce for all.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri mentions the difficulty of founding a new economic system while settling a new planet. The world uses energy as a global currency, measured in energy credits. This works in much the same way as gold in Civilization, but one does get richer by settling high elevations and constructing solar collectors.
Kingdom of Loathing uses meat. The creators say this was because they didn't have a picture of a pile of coins, but did have a picture of a piece of meat. It also works as a good Lampshade Hanging, as it makes more sense to be able to pull a fistful of meat off the corpse of a dead mammal than a fistful of dollars. However, outside the Seaside Town there are almost as many places that use their own local currency as there are places that use meat.
Bells in Animal Crossing. Subverted by one of the messages the player may receive when searching a dresser in a neighbor's house: "You found 100 Rupees! But you can't use them here."
Lampshaded in Chrono Trigger. When the party travels to the distant future or the remote past, merchants don't recognize their money (Although they end up taking it anyway. Gold's gold, no matter what funny pictures get printed on it). Oddly no one in the present has a similar reaction when the party spends money acquired in the year 2300 AD or 65 million BC.
The money is accepted in the future because, well, they don't exactly have anything else, really. The money is also accepted in the past because, as the trader says, he wants your "shiny stone", and is willing to give you stuff for it.
Also contains a subversion: The "weapons shop" in prehistoric era refuses to take money, and will only accept trade goods from their hunting grounds (horns and the like). There is another caveman nearby, however, who's more than happy to "trade your shiny stone" for healing potions. And before you ask, the weapons you can acquire there (then, rather) are superior to the far future ones you have currently...
The second and third Donkey Kong Country games involve using two types of coins: "regular" coins for getting important items (banana coins and bear coins respectively), and "special" coins for unlocking hidden levels (Kremkoins and "Bonus coins"). Actually, both games also have a third type: a giant one with "DK" on it, but those are just for getting 100% Completion.
"Credits" in Mass Effect. The codex states credits have a floating exchange rate that is calculated in real-time with the currencies of local planets and countries, meaning that anyone on Earth can convert credits to their value in, say, dollars or yen with a press of a button.
It's mentioned that there wasn't a single "credit" system in the galaxy until the Volus entered the galactic scene. Interestingly, credits also work outside of Citadel space.
The main currency on Anachronox, the money that is accepted all over the universe, by all the established races in the game, is... the Canadian dollar.
Specifically, the loonie dollar coin. Paper is not accepted.
In the MMO Ev E Online, the standard unit of currency accepted everywhere (including between factions that are at Cold War with each other), is the Interstellar Standard Kredit, or ISK. Being that a large economic simulation is a key part of the game, literal financial empires are built on this standard.
ISK is the universal currency used by capsulers, but there are countless other currencies used by people planetside. The ISK is just used to facilitate trade between people bouncing around the galaxy with budgets the size of planetary GDPs.
The name is something of a Bilingual Bonus too — the game's developers, CCP, are based out of Iceland, which uses ISK as the standard code for the Icelandic currency, the króna.
Wonder if the in game currency will change to the euro soon...
In Shadow Hearts 2, despite the game taking place in various countries around Europe and Japan during WWI, the same currency (called, simply enough, "money") is accepted everywhere.
Fol in the Star Ocean series is, in fact, intergalactic currency. Whether you're in a primitive planet based on 12th century or in a super-advanced planet, you use Fol to pay for your items.
The Space Stage in Spore is a particularly egregious example: every space-faring civilization in the galaxy uses the same unit of currency. Which wouldn't be too bad, except that this includes your civilization before you've made contact with anyone else.
In fact, even the Grox use this currency, despite being evil life-hating cyborgs who are in turn despised by every civilized species around.
The Shadowrun RPG features Nuyen, which, as the name implies, is a new form of the yen. It's accepted everywhere.
The use of "credits" in the Crusader games is perfectly justified by a global corporate hegemony. However, it's implied to be at least partially electronic-based money, which means it would be an odd choice for taking to the black marketeer you use to buy your toys at, no?
While mostly done straight in the MMO World of Warcraft, with the currency consisting of copper, silver, and gold pieces across all factions, the game has dozens of currencies—eleven from PvP alone (Honor points, arena points, six different marks of honor, marks of Honor Hold/Thrallmar, and the Halaa tokens) and five obtained from bosses, usually exchanged for epic gear. There are also minor factions that only accept a particular currency for their goods: Sporeggar only takes a certain mushroom; Ogri'la only takes a certain crystal; the Winterfin murlocs only take a certain species of clam, and then the inexplicable Venture Coins.
Fridge Logic hits when you realize that while all these specialist vendors only accept particular currencies for the stuff they sell, every single Sargeras-cursed one of them will buy anything from players, and pay for the items in standard Azerothian currencies.
While GP and copper, silver, and gold was the gameplay mechanic standard, the fluff made a point that the Horde hadn't started minting its own coins yet (it takes place before the MMO) and if trading in Horde territory, you were more likely to be doing business with gold nuggets and dust than coins.
Gaia Online has multiple currencies. The most common is Gaia Gold (g), which is used in most stores, and on the marketplace. The other official currency is Gaia Cash (gc, or GCash), which is obtained through microtransactions. GCash can be used in all shops except one, and certain items can only be purchased with cash. In addition, La Victoire (Cash Shop) and Phin Phang (Aquarium Shop) only accept GCash, and the zOMG! Power Up items from Back Alley Bargains can only be purchased for cash as well. The Casino games use two forms of currency: Tokens and Tickets. These function identically to their real life counterparts (Tokens are used to play the games, and tickets are used to purchase prizes from Prize and Joy). Null Fragments are used by Nicolae for Item Crafting, and can be earned from quests or purchased for 25gc a piece. Finally, the Mythrill and Fail Coins are prizes from random boxes that can be sold for up to 5 Million Gold.
Aversion: In the Exile and Avernum series, the instructions say that the "gold" referred to in the game is not actual gold pieces, but random valuables (such as coins, small gems and animal skins) that can be used for barter underground. Quantifying it, therefore, seems to be a sort of translation for the benefit of us players, who are used to living in a society with quantified currency. (Although in the third game in the series, the party's finances are identical in Exile and on the surface?one would think that the Empire would have, if not a universal currency everywhere on the surface, at least some kind of currency.)
Justified in that although the Empire mints currency, adventurers are common enough that shopkeepers (especially those that deal with them regularly) would be used to dealing with them paying with the bartered spoils of their adventures.
Rings in Sonic Chronicles. Even once you're inside the "Twilight Cage" alien universe.
City of Heroes uses Influence (for Heroes and Vigilantes), Infamy (For Villains and Rogues) and Information (for Praetorians). While Influence and Infamy were originally separate currencies, Issue 18 consolidated the currencies into a single metaunit (INF), to facilitate trading between heroes and villains. The currency is designed so that a character uses her reputation and knowledge to get the equipment they need. However, as you can trade INF like a regular currency, this raises some odd questions. Most characters treat INF as an actual US Tender, rather than the metaphorical currency it's designed to be.
There are several other types of currency but only one is tradeable like Influence/Infamy and that is Candy Canes, which are only accepted by the Candy Keeper who appears during the Winter Event in exchange for various items. As such Candy Canes are only found on enemies associated with that event.
The completely non-tradeable currencies are Reward Merits that can be used at merit vendors to buy rare items rather than trying to buy them off the player market, Vanguard Merits that are earned for defeating Rikti (after you join the Vanguard) and can be used at their base to purchase special items from them, and Tickets earned from playing Architect Entertainment missions that you can cash in at any AE building for anything from inspirations to the Uncommon or Rare salvage of your choice.
Characters who stick to one of the extreme ends of the alignment scale can earn Hero or Villain Merits. These allow for the direct purchase of rare recipes at a much lower cost. However, you lose all your merits if your alignment shifts, meaning that players farming for merits are limited to their home city, Co-Op Zones, and Praetoria.
In Little Big Adventure the same currency (Kashes) is used throughout the planet of Twinsun (partially justified by Funfrock ruling the world with an iron fist). The same is not true for the planet of Zeelich in the second game, which uses a completely different currency, the Zlito (probably named after the Polish zloty). However, you can meet a collector who will take your items in as exotic curiosities, albeit for very little money. Furthermore, the ferry man of Zeelich will only accept gems.
Most strategy games uses a common global currency for accounting purposes and ignores fluctuations in exchange rates.
Though the British pound was (sort of) the universal currency of the age, what with the Brits having the biggest economy and most banks.
And Hearts of Iron simply uses "money" although it is symbolized by the $-sign. Money itself is not very useful alone, but it is used as a trade good to acquire more valuable materials like metal, crude oil, supplies, or fuel from other countries.
Justified in Homeworld 1&2 and the Expansion Pack Cataclysm. Your 'currency' for purchasing units are Resource Units, and actually are what you use to build items, and are only used once or twice to purchase technology from another spacefaring race, which you are told have been calculated very carefully to match their rates.
The game Deus Ex uses credits as the UN-controlled currency in the mid 21st century, with a few in-game articles discussing the ramifications of a totally digital economy.
Dollars are still mentioned at least once, however.
Pokémon is a special case - nobody seems to agree on what the English name for the P with two crosses is. Suggested names have included: Pokédollars, Pokémon Dollars, Poké, PokéYen, Dollars, Pyen, and even Zenny. The only places where the currency is officially given a name are Poké in the Mystery Dungeon series, and Pokémon Dollars in the Colosseum games.
The Japanese games uses Yen as its official currency, which wasn't the problem in the first four generations of the games (since they're all based upon the Pokémon World's equivalent of various fragments of Japan). The problem manifested itself when the fifth and the sixth generations, taking part in the Pokémon World's equivalent of New York and France, respectively, still uses the Yen as their official currency.
In Transarctica, a game set in a post-apocalyptic ice world setting, Earth after "experiment" to stop global heating, uses coal as a currency. The game is set on a steam train - making coal the most vital resource, keeping you from being crushed by the Evil Empire and freezing to death. Also, there are two kinds of coal - brown and black, black is the real currency, while brown is used mostly as fuel. You can use the black coal for a substantial speed boost, literally burning money. Must be a very funny economy, burning money on one side and frequently finding new coal mines on the other.
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters use Gig Points, the currency endorsed and backed by the one, the only, Indestructible Gig. It is never spent on anything in the mundane gameworld (and there's nothing you can buy anyway) - you spend it on hiring and employing troops, and buying edicts, decor and rooms, all of which can be considered extensions of Gig's powers. It's effectively the inverse of a global currency, one that only really matter to one person.
In Cyber Nations, players can choose one of several real-world currencies as their national currency, but it's really just for flavor: All currencies have a 1-1 exchange rate. Of course, talking about the in-game economy in which technology is traded for money is what the game wiki is for.
Obscure DS game Spectral Force: Genesis averts this, if simplistically. There are four major commodities (Gold, Jewels, Relics, and Livestock) and each nation uses one of the four as it's primary currency. During tax months, the others can be traded against your primary at a fluctuating exchange rate. Smart investments can make up a surprising amount of your income.
In X Com Enemy Unknown, the player will deal with all the 16 funding Nations of the Council in unified "Credits". Justified in that the Council nations streamlined the funding/logistics aspect of supplying X-Com so that the organization can focus on fighting aliens instead of spending internal manpower and precious time on calculating the exchange rates of several forms of currency.
Endless Space uses "Dust", which plays a larger role in the background story but for gameplay purposes it's just that. It's icon even looks like a gold coin.
Mostly played straight in Neverwinter Nights 1, with the exception of one point in the original campaign with a particular vendor who only accepts "Smuggler's Coins", which you can find in loot from certain enemy and buy a limited quantity of. They're worthless everywhere else.
In the Assassin's Creed series, you, the player (and also Desmond) only have to deal with a single currency, whether it's florins, acre, or pounds, but the Animus database specifically mentions that this is a convenience imposed on the Framing Device: technically, the player is using all kinds of currency, but the Animus itself simplifies it so that the user can concentrate on more important things.
The unnamed coins in the Super Mario Bros. series. Oh sure, you might be in space, on a tropical island or in any one of the later Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario settings, but absolutely everything of note just happens to cost those gold coins you can find all over the place. It is however averted in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, where for whatever reason, the Beanbean Kingdom doesn't use the same type of money and the exchange rate ends up being so bad you end up getting 99 Beanbean Kingdom coins in exchange for about 9 million Mushroom Kingdom ones.
Spoofed in the South Park episode "Pinewood Derby", with "Space Cash", used by some kind of planet confederation. Turns out they were actually worthless and only used as a Secret Test of Character, earth failed.
Ben 10: Alien Force seems to use a sort of Galactic Credit system, though it's rarely seen. One episode had the team given a gold-class "credit cube" (which appears to be nothing more than a 3-cubic-inch block), which apparently has no spending limit.
Like a credit card?
Snelfus on Cyberchase. The value of these doesn't seem to conform to any standard exchange rate—probably writer laziness rather than inflation. They look like euros in bill form.
In Ancient Europe, the Roman Empire came about as close as you could get. Archaeologists are still finding caches of Roman coinage, and in fact the Roman "Denarius" was so common that it forms the root of many languages' word for "Money", and several modern currencies are named after the Denarius (the various Dinars, for example), including the penny (by derivation from the French denier) , or the Russian word of money, "деньги/den'gi".
Not to mention the British pound aka Ł for Librum as in librae, solidi, denarii. Yes, the Roman standard still lived and thrived for a while.
Visa is a pseudo-Real Life Example: they're accepted all over the world and in places you wouldn't expect, but they still use the issuing country's currency (usually dollars) as a basis for value.
Then again, they often aren't accepted in places where you would expect. Stores in Germany, for instance, often to only accept EC and cash.
Similarly PayPal automatically converts between currencies in international transactions.
Until the beginning of the 20th century the global currency was gold (and, to a lesser extent, silver). All the different currencies (dollar, pound, mark, frank, etc) were weights of gold. So using and converting different currencies was generally trivial if the currency was known and trusted.
The British pound was originally a pound of silver, not gold. By Queen Victoria's day, the British pound was a gold coin equal in value to a pound of silver, 1/3 of a Troy pound by weight. Regular pound weight = 454 grams; bullion is measured in Troy units, Troy pound = 385 grams.
The internal conversions were insanely complicated before decimal currencies were common, though.
The "standard" silver coin in the 17th and 18th century was the Spanish eight-real piece (also known as the Spanish dollar and pieces of eight). As well as Spain, its colonies, and its trading partners (particularly the United States, which made it the basis of the US dollar), they were accepted as far afield as China and Australia (although the Australian ones were restamped with the British monarch's head and the value of 10 shillings).
Bullion coins can function as a global currency in the right circumstances; a suitably disreputable jeweller's shop or pawnbroker will probably offer a better rate than the money-changer and ask fewer questions than the bank.
Proponents of Caliphate supports the gold-based currency to be used in trades involving Islamic countries. The gold-base is actually enforced by the Sharia law: in Sharia economics, you simply can't issue money without it being backed by a gold reserve. This prevents the global economy from being effed up by financial manipulators (Google 'derivative crisis').
There have been proposals by the UN to create a new global reserve currency for international trade. Whether or not it replaces the US dollar and the euro, or whether or not it gets off the drawing board, remains to be seen.
In modern (20th century) history, the American Dollar, the British Pound and the Japanese Yen took turns posing as universal currency. If the American Dollar stays weak for too long, the euro (€) is looking like the next contender.
There is something like an international reserve currency, the IMF'sSpecial Drawing Rights. However, these are completely intangible and are only of use to governments trying (1) to peg their currencies (e.g. the People's Republic of China) or (2) to stabilize their currencies.
A number of survivalists (at least in the US) hold to the philosophy that in a scenario where civilization gets disrupted for a long period, people will refuse to accept modern paper and coin currency, and revert to gold as the standard trade currency. Other theories hold that gold, being useless for practical purposes outside of electronics (which would probably be nigh-impossible to make after the apocalypse), will fall by the wayside, and small, useful consumables (ammunition, aspirin, fuel, etc.) will become the common currency. The wise are betting hard on two-ply toilet paper.
In post-WW1 Eastern Europe, cigarettes became the standard currency as confidence in money vanished.
More sinisterly in both situations: sex, notably in Italy post-WWII. An American journalist recalled an old schoolhouse in Milan where every classroom had an upper-class Italian woman and a pile of GI's food rations. If you added something to the pile, they would have sex with you. One British officer in the aftermath of World War II recalled seeing a crowd at a rail junction in Germany. As his train stopped, him leaning out the window, they clamored for some food or clothes. He threw them a couple of tins and his scarf, and was horrified by the mad scrabble for the goods. Another officer in the compartment window in front of his, watching the scene, turned to him and said: "You're a bloody fool - you could have tumbled the two best looking women down there for those tins."
The US Dollar is one of the most common reserve currencies in the world, meaning that many nations peg their currency compared to the dollar. It is believed that there are more US Dollars outside of the United States than within.
A Cold War saying goes that Russians and Arabs hate the Americans, but love their dollars.
This is much less the case in the post-Cold War world; the US dollar is mostly still #1 but competes with several other currencies, especially the euro, but also the Japanese yen and several others. That said, foreign currency reserves are at least somewhat based on how much international trade that country does in the worldnote which the US still leads globally, moreso if you include US Treasury bonds which have to be purchased in dollars and are still being snapped up even with the recent fretting about the debt ceiling, and problems in the Eurozone and the fact that nobody particular trusts the Chinese mean that the US dollar remains the base of most of the global economy.
The euro started as an attempt to go in this direction. Initially, the 27 member states of the European Union each had their own national currency (the French franc, the Italian lira, the German mark, etc.). Currently, 17 of the member states use the euro as their national currency. As well as Montenegro and the Kosovo (who previously used the German mark).
There are some schools of thought that believe that there will never be a global currency because it wouldn't allow enough flexibility when regional economies fluctuate. That was one reason the world as a whole left the gold (or silver) standard after World War II and allowed the different currencies to rise and fall in value against each other.
An example of this can be seen in the Eurozone. The current debt crisis in Greece, Portugal and Spain would traditionally be solved by devaluing their currency as a way to pay back their debts more easily and encourage foreign investment. However, since the euro represents the entire Eurozone, including Germany, which has a much stronger economy, the euro remains strong and Greece, Portugal and Spain are out of luck. For a while there was a lot of fear that Greece would go bankrupt, which would damage confidence in the Eurozone as a whole whether or not individual countries deserved it. A single currency is not without its risks.
This is one of the reasons why some country blocks (like those from Latin America and Asia) who utterly refuse to adopt an Euro-style currency, since it will put the more economicallly weak countries at mercy of their more powerful neighbors.note In the Latin American case, it will be the United States, Canada and, in less degree, Mexico and Brazil. In the Asian case, it will be Japan, South Korea, China, Israel, India and in less degree, many of the oil-producing countries from the Middle East, not to mention how alien are all those mentioned countries to each other, plus other complex reasons. In fact, Mexico has taken this topic Up to Eleven and it's one of the few American allies who does not allow the use of the American dollar in their country, with the sole exception of airports and few restricted tourist spots, albeit this is due because the country is fighting against money laundering and not because ideological reasons.
There is speculation that Bitcoins could emerge as one, given that unlike currencies in use today it is a decentralized system and therefore not subject to potential political whims. Bitcoins themselves have proven to be very secure (i.e., it's very difficult to pass off counterfeit Bitcoins), although exchanging them into physical currencies (i.e., US dollars) has proven problematic for a number of reasons (e.g., some exchanges have gotten hacked, others have been accused for being fronts for international money laundering, etc.)