Battlepanda: Virtual gold mines


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Virtual gold mines

For some reason, I find the phenomenon of Chinese gold-farmers* oddly compelling. You can watch a video here that is exerpted from an upcoming documentary.

I can understand that game companies are in a quandary. Allowing the gold-farmers to sell their services apace ruins the dramatic integrity of the game. However, both buyers and sellers are happy, and the migration of the virtual into the actual through this trade practice is a really interesting way in which the game is being made more tangible to the players. Whether that's a good thing or not from a broader perspective is debatable. I have cousins (and an uncle) who spend most of their disposable time slaying beasts, casting spells, and on occasions making phonecalls to another continent so that they can team up with buddies to bushwhack unsuspecting neophytes. But hey, I blog, so it's not like I can do too much tut-tutting over people spending too much time on computers.

I understand that there is a game out there called "Second life" in which the blurring of real and virtual economies is actively encouraged. And the sword-and-sorcery aspect of most of the other games removed. That sounds both much more appealing to me and kind of pointless at the same time.

*That is, video game players who spend lots of time playing the boring parts of huge RPG games like "Everquest" to sell the power-ups** they obtain.

**Yes, I realize the use of the old-fashioned term "power-ups" places me squarely as someone who hasn't played video games since they got rid of the super nintendo.