As a newly minted WoW-head (that's World of Warcraft for you noobs), I've always wondered just how all those "gold farmers" who try to sell virtual gold within in the game came by their vast, ill-gotten riches. I'd heard rumors of sweatshops in China where people are forced to drink Mountain Dew and kill Fel Orcs for 16 hours straight, but that sounded too strange to be true -- and, at the same time, not too different from the average college dormitory.
But according to a new paper by Richard Heeks at the University of Manchester, my imagination wasn't too far off. Online gold farming is big business; by some estimates, gold farming is a $1.4 billion industry that may employee up to one million people. Gold farms in Mexico, Russia, Eastern Europe, and most importantly China, which has about 85 percent of the market, have developed into sophisticated operations, with specialized characters, and employee/players, some tasked with playing the game to farm or collect virtual gold and goods, some specializing in advertising and hawking the goods online, and some devoted to "powerleveling": jumping a customer's character up levels quickly for a fee. On the back end, some employees are part of research and development teams, figuring out ways to earn gold more quickly and efficiently, and even designing bots or hacks to automate the process.
As online gaming grows at an incredible rate of 80 percent per year, and the popularity of WoW, Everquest, Runescape, Final Fantasy, and dozens of other MMORPG skyrockets, gold farming is set to become an even bigger economic force in developing countries. Heeks paper is the first attempt to synthesize what we know about the underground online gaming economy, which he doesn't see slowing up anytime soon. In fact, with gold farming we are just dipping our toe in the economic waters that virtual worlds may bring in the future. "Gold farming is an early example of online employment -- what we might otherwise call "cyber-work" -- in developing countries," writes Heeks. "And it is the first example of what will be a much larger set of economic activity in future; not just given the 80 percent per annum increases in global online games, but as people spend more and more of their time interacting in cyberspace generally and in virtual worlds specifically." In other words, the Fel Orcs aren't going to get a break any time soon.
These games are designed for specific reasons. I think Gold Farming will destroy the game in the end. I have played WoW for a long time and I know millions of other people too. It is a pain in the butt to get gold, but that is part of the experience. These Games Economies are fragile and when these ignorant people farm gold or find better ways to beat the games design. It destroys the enjoyment of the games. The game is designed the same way as our life, you get a reward for your accomplishments and hard work which makes the Games and Life exciting.
It is up to the Developers and True Players of these Games to stop these types of things. I hate Bots, and Hacks. Play the GAME! Thats what it's designed for.
STOP DESTROYING THE GAME!!!
No, please *do* destroy this game. MMOs are a fad. The sooner they're gone, the better.
You think the idea of playing a game and getting paid for it won't light up the eyes of many a gamer? I see there being degrees created in professional gaming. Nerds rejoicing of their dreams coming true. Rich gamer's will pay for being rushed to the high level parts of the game. MMOs aren't going anywhere as people keep trying to live fantasy social lives on a computer.
I believe that the way to go is to establish a method of buying Gametime through ingame currency. If done right, Players who need Gold can buy a GTC and sell it inGame for Gold.
This goes completly around the Goldfarmers (they cannot earn money this way) and being a legal way to aquire more Gold it would attract lots of ppl who would otherwise buy from the farmers.
This is a tried method. in the MMO "EVE Online" this has been working for over a year now, and I for one have seem much less farmers since then.
He who finds spelling errors may keep them
I will have to agree with Portillo that MMOs aren't going anywhere for a long, long time. Too many people said gaming (then arcades) was just a fad, but, of course, people said the same thing when the highly expensive but magical "television" was introduced to the world. Games know no bounds as they are only limited by our imagination (unlimited) and our technology (raising exponentially all the time). They satisfy many needs of human beings, virtual or not, including social needs, however, Portillo. In fact, gaming provides an excellent source of socialization. One may meet, talk, discuss, and play with people from all across our wide planet with few restrictions such as prejudice as one cannot know if the people with which they converse are obese, skinny, tall, short, ugly, diseased, of one ethnicity or another, etc, and so people are not judged as such.
Though I feel it is wrong, people are always seeking an easier way in life, trying to cut corners, and are natural business people always trying to make some money. So, though ambitious and creative, these "farmers" and people who deal with them are hurting the MMOs that they play.
I am surprised this article did not mention these farmers and their associates doing this for actual, physical cash on eBay, for example, though.
Thats a very rosey happy picture of the joys of virtual emplyment but the writer appears to be new to MMORPG's and does realize one tiny issue.
Its against the EULA to participate in any way, in RMT (real money transactions)
Most MMO companies struggle constantely against both the dirtbag farmer and the dirtbags who buy the gold / power leveling services / bots or whatever other cheats they try to use.
In the end thats all it is, cheating and you will get banned if found out or reported.
OK, if any of you play runescape, you know about bots and marcoers. A few of you may know about gold farming. They did get rid of gold farming, but they destroyed the game as you may know if you played before 10/12/07. point is that it will destroy MMORPGs
People always praise those who donate to poor countries...this is their own way of getting money and it is way better than the money they are getting paid. A good gold farmer can make a hundred dollars a day, which is what a years pay for a Chinese child. I feel that some people are in debt to these people. If you have the money and willing to pay it why should it be stopped?
As an addicted Guild Wars player, I can't conceive of why anyone would want to buy gold...or anything else using real money, if those items can be had through play. What is the enjoyment of that? Taken to the extreme, why not have a service whereby a player could buy gold, elite skills, perfect weapons, power level their character, and buy titles...like you can buy titles in Europe? Oh yeah, you could also hire someone to choose the outfit for your toon and style their hair. That way you could become a legend online without ever having to touch the game...whoopee.
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley