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    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2007
    When I got in to work today, my boss brought over the print version of IEEE Spectrum Online - for Tech Insiders. He was ranting about this article called Playing Dirty.

    The article explains how 35 year old Richard Thurman was able to earn or, depending on how you feel about it, cheat the system out of 24,000 in gold ~ real cash PER MONTH by playing Ultima Online.

    Even more confounding, though, is that:
    There are odd and controversial real-world repercussions to the cheating. News accounts during the past year have described the rise of sweatshops in Asia, especially China, where low-paid workers play online games for 12 hours a day to amass virtual goods to be sold on the black market.
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2007
    I know Blizzard has brought in some half-assed measures over the years to attempt to tackle the gold-farmer presence in WoW, but nothing that can't be skirted so far, unfortunately.

    A couple more articles, older but certainly relevant, including the sweatshop factor:
    New York Times (article has an accompanying short video)
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    This is somewhat unrelated, but I've often wondered how much longer we have until the companies based around exploiting systems like Digg and Reddit for advertising move to a foreign sweatshop model?

    It seems like it would translate, and probably be a hell of a lot cheaper to set up besides - the system specs needed to run a web browser are nowhere near those needed to run WoW, or UO, etc.
    • CommentAuthorRedwynd
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2007
    I don't think there will ever be a way to completely eliminate gold-farming, so long as the market for the gold still exists. Every system of gaming is designed to allow players to make gold, so they can progress in the game world. Sooner or later, someone will find a way to exploit it. It happened to UO, WoW, I've even heard it's come up in LotRO.

    Every system of rules is just another puzzle to be broken, right?
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2007
    This has been a problem since online gaming hit big with Everquest. Capitalism at its finest.
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2007
    It's been happening in LotRO since the day it went live. Even when it was still in beta you could find ads for gold sellers for LotRO.

    It'll always happen. And games are loath to block ban IP ranges from ccertain areas because they might jsut block a legit player, which is fair enough. Unfortunately it's something that MMO players jsut have to learn to live with.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2007
    I've seen adverts for companies that go even further, for a fee they'll actually play your character for you, then give it back once they've finished power levelling it.

    Which seems, to me, to defeat the entire purpose of playing this sort of game in the first place.

    But as they say, if it didn't pay they wouldn't do it.
    • CommentAuthorrobb
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2007
    the capitalist in me loves this, the luddite in me thinks this is an awful waste of time. but, it's fascinating. i was introduced to the concept by one of cory doctorow's short story "anda's game"
    you can read it here:

    or be lazy and listen to it here:

    and somewhere deep in the npr archives is a pop economics book by some author about this subject entirely. but i forget, and don't care enough to be specific.
    • CommentAuthorKunundrum
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2007
    I played UO 10 years ago and it was going on then too, though not at that level. Not to surprising.
      CommentAuthorIan Mayor
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2007
    To me this is one of the more interesting aspects of online gaming and an amazingly litteral example of fiction breaking the fourth wall (virtual economies of fantasy worlds becoming 'real').

    The many robberies, heck, even confidence scams that have taken place in Eve Online are the most interesting thing about the game (while being the reason I never want to play it), exactly because the money is 'real'.