Real Sweatshops Making Virtual Goods

from the paying-someone-else-to-play-games-for-you dept

It has been fascinating to watch the virtual worlds of MMORPGs, such as EverQuest, Worlds of Warcraft and Star Wars: Galaxies, grow very real economies. Millions of dollars change hands in the trade of virtual goods giving some of these worlds GDPs equivalent to Namibia. With such a burgeoning economy, enterprising folks are now setting up “virtual sweatshops”, where laborers are paid to “farm” these virtual worlds for gold, rare items, and characters. These laborers are paid miniscule wages to monitor and cultivate characters through automated scripts which are tuned to accumulate gold and exploit certain routines designed to collect large amounts of sellable goods. Game administrators frown upon these practices since an influx of capital into an economy could cause inflation and affect quality of gameplay (or quality of “life”). Sweatshops, inflation, monetary policy — all of a sudden, these virtual worlds don’t seem so virtual anymore, do they?

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Comments on “Real Sweatshops Making Virtual Goods”

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Joe Badermderm (user link) says:

An Adventurer is You!

This is why I play the not-quite-as-abused-but-still-lots-of-fun-because-it-is-only-stick-figures-parody “Kingdom of Loathing”. I see that people are selling currency (it’s not gold but “meat” in this game!)and items on ebay. But overall it’s not as whacked out as some of the other online games. (Though you wouldn’t think it by looking at the boards for KoL and reading the constant complaints about “fixing the in-game economy” and “getting rid of bugmeat”.)

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