As I was driving home last week, I heard something interesting on NPR. I knew that people had been selling their MMORG characters on Ebay. They would spend a few sleepless nights getting their character up to a really high level and then sell the character on Ebay to the highest bidder. I’ve heard stories of people making thousands of dollars! But this story on NPR took the cake! People were buying in-game money with their own real money. Of course, as the point was made in the story, our money is no more eral than the money in the game, if people have faith in its redemption value. Apparently there are websites which peg the US dollar to the Everquest Gold Piece! But that’s not all!
Apparently, there are now sweatshops in Southeasat Asia where people are paid $1 per hour to play these online games. Their job is to harvest as much in-game money as possible. Their overlord, typically a caucasian, takes this money and then puts it all together and sells it on Ebay or other sites for massive amounts of real-world dollars! The above link to the NPR news story has a graph with the exchange rate on World of Warcraft.
Personally, I feel this is like cheating because you’re basically playing the game via deus ex machina. In other words, it’s like the hand of god is giving your characters money because in the game they haven’t worked enough to actually earn that money. As a weak player you may think it’ll be more fun to be strong and be able to take on anyone, but on any game I’ve used cheatcodes, I usually find that the game becomes boring. What’s the point of romping around the world killing monsters if you don’t need the money or XP? At least, that’s how I feel about the topic.