MMORG and Real Economies Clash

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.

, , , ,

2 responses to “MMORG and Real Economies Clash”

  1. Kinda funny, to me at least, that NPR is covering the stories about the Chinese Gold Farmers. There’s a whole sub-culture, kind of thing in WoW about Gold Farmers, some of it prejudice, that just says that they have quotas to meet and stuff and they just hang out in certain areas all day playing. They are notorious for ninja-ing (stealing items that they don’t deserve when rare items drop), for their lack of English-speaking ability, and for their lack of skill at playing the game.

    I get harassed by one every so often. I get sent a whisper with a website to go to if I want to buy WoW Gold. Good story though.

  2. Yeah, I’ve read several articles about the gold farmers, and have also received in game whispers about buying gold. In all honesty, I don’t care that much about it as something other game players are doing. I have some characters that I’ve managed to make so much money with that I can buy anything I want. It doesn’t make the game any different. It just means I do a tiny bit more damage per second, or have a small amount more hit points than I normally would at that level. Money doesn’t buy success in a MMO.

    I partied with some random guy that was talking about how he’d just bought 300 gold for $10 or something. It didn’t make him a better player or make the quests complete themselves.

    And I don’t know why you’d want to but a level 60 character. Getting to level 60 is the fun part of the game!

    As to the sweatshop conditions of the workers, I’ve read several articles that actually talk about how they’re making more money than they could doing anything else (there just aren’t good jobs available) and they get an opportunity to actually play the game on occasion. Here’s a good article about it –

    Sorry for the super long comment!