Thanks to Tim Wang’s eLearning Blog for the image!
A vast shadow industry has mushroomed in rural China. Savvy entrepreneurs harness teams to play popular online games, gathering magic spells, battle hammers, armor and other virtual assets. They then provide the assets to brokers, who sell them to rich players in the United States and Europe wanting shortcuts to gaming success.
At any given time, as many as half a million Chinese gamers are completing quests and gathering such assets as virtual gold pieces to sell off for real money. They toil in Internet cafes and in makeshift computer labs, sometimes sleeping on cots in nearby dormitories in shifts.
In industry lingo, the gamers are known as “Chinese gold farmers.”
“It’s easier than making shoes,” said Wang Xin, 27, an entrepreneur who keeps 30 young people working in his stable of gamers.
While the idea of selling gold and collectables such as weapons, potions, spells and whatnot is not new, the industrialization of it is a fresh development. We’ll soon see if this process is restricted or disabled over time by the various studios
It does seem somewhat unfair that those with limited game skills, accomplishments etc. get an instant leg up on the competition because those lesser players have more disposable income in meat space.
Update: Tim Wang posted about this phenominon a couple of months back.
He also pointed to a video…