This piece on video-game gold farmers in China is blowing my mind. Maybe it’s an old question, but if anyone can, please recommend books about the social/philosophical implications of this advanced level of super surreal life/videogame bleed. ALSO WONDERING ABOUT: the sweatshop implications / economics (disparity, profit) in a really particular leisure industry.

From the piece:
“In farms with daily production quotas, too much time spent dead instead of farming gold can put the worker’s job at risk. And in shops where daily wages are tied to daily harvests, every minute lost to death is money taken from the farmer’s pocket. But there are times when death is more than just an economic setback for a gold farmer, and this was one of them. As Min returned to his corpse — checking to make sure his attacker wasn’t waiting around to fall on him again the moment he resurrected — what hurt more than the death itself was how it happened, or more precisely, what made it happen: another player.”

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3 Responses to DIGITAL GOLD

  1. james says:

    i used to give farmers a hard time when i played wow. especially if they were farming a rare spawn mob that i wanted to tame. but then i started partying with them and practicing my chinese and teaching them some english in exchange and they showed me some pretty ingenious tricks to get good loot.
    it was pretty awful, the racism that breeds within that game… much of it over the farming and how that spoiled many aspects of a game for people who take seriously. it got pretty difficult to deal with. especially once i got to know these two kids my age who shared the same character and lived in a warehouse working for less than 50cents an hour.

  2. You should definitely check out Julian Dibbell’s book, PLAY MONEY, to which his NY Times article is something of a sequel. (The book is about making money by buying and selling virtual artifacts in Ultima Online; in the time covered by the book, he had heard about gold farms, but hadn’t yet succeeded in tracking them down).
    At the risk of seeming self-aggrandizing, I will also refer you to an article of mine that deals, precisely, with “the social/philosophical implications of this advanced level of super surreal life/videogame bleed”:
    Also — Cory Doctorow has an SF short story on pretty much precisely this theme: “Anda’s Game,”
    in his recent collection OVERCLOCKED, or online at:

  3. Rachael says:

    I KNOW — I was fascinated by this article on the plane home last night myself… and I’ve been mystified by this whole second-life-&-similar-games phenomenon for a while now…. I don’t think there are any books on the topic yet – you should write one!

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