Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gold farming and avatars in Online RPG games

The NYT has a good article on gold farmers in MMORPG. The pay is $1.25 for 100 gold (in World of Warcraft) which works out to $0.30 an hour. The thing that I was surprised and pleased to learn is that the farmers do enjoy their work, in some way at least:

At the end of almost any working day or night in a Chinese gaming workshop, workers can be found playing the same game they have been playing for the last 12 hours, and to some extent gold-farm operators depend on it. The game is too complex for the bosses to learn it all themselves; they need their workers to be players — to find out all the tricks and shortcuts, to train themselves and to train one another. “When I was a worker,” Fan Yangwen, who is now 21 and in Donghua’s main office providing technical support, told me, “I loved to play because when I was playing, I was learning.” But learning to play or learning to work? I asked. Fan shrugged. “Both.”

Cory Doctorow has a great short story about gold farmers.

Also in the NYT is a picture gallery (link may expire) with pictures from Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators by Robbie Cooper. At the BBC you can see more of the pictures, and learn about the picture at the top of this post:

Choi is a professor of public policy and law. His character Uroo Ahs buys and sells item in the game world, even when he isn't there, running on scripts he writes for her. He makes spreadsheets analysing different variables within the game and believes that using a little girl avatar helps in negotiations. So far he's amassed game items worth 150m Adena, the virtual currency in the game.

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