Monday, December 08, 2008

A very odd job

Have you heard of World of Warcraft? It is a "massively multiplayer online role-playing game" (ahem, MMORPG) played over the Internet simultaneously by millions of people. The more you play, the more powers and weapons and so forth you accumulate (assuming you are not entirely incompetent). But what if you don't have enough time to do that? Wouldn't it be "great" (assuming you find anything about losing yourself in videogames to be "great") if you could simply buy these powers and weapons?

The maker of the World of Warcraft does not allow you to do this, so of course a "black market" arose to fill the need. Here's the quote from Wired magazine about this:

"Internet Gaming Entertainment, or IGE, made hundreds of millions of dollars as middleman for Western gamers eager to outsource the boring aspects of play to low-wage third worlders. The people who founded the company realized that scarcity of time and scarcity of virtual resources created a whole new market."

and....

"Despite the game companies' widespread prohibition of such transactions, their number has grown to support an estimated $2 billion annual trade, a half dozen multimillion-dollar online retail businesses, and an enormous Chinese workforce earning 30 cents an hour playing MMOs and harvesting treasure to supply the major retailers."

Now that is a very odd job: sitting around and playing videogames specifically to accumulate "treasure" that can then be sold to people who are able to attach a greater value to their lives than the "enormous Chinese workforce."

We live in a very strange world. For the full article:

http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/magazine/16-12/ff_ige

3 comments:

Danilo said...

This is one of the strangest thing i have heard/read so far.. it is indeed quite sad what sometimes the human race is able to achieve.Well, we are not supposed to understand everything, aren't we?

Fletch said...

Well, I actually play WoW and NO I WOULDN'T BUY A NO REAL OBJECT. I first saw this kind of transaction for "Ever Quest"; its another MMORPG. I was working at a University and I had watch this girl play Everquest for a good year; her job was Lab attendant. She disappeared for a term and when I saw her again I asked how she was doing in her game. She said she had stopped playing and was auctioning off her game charaters items on Ebay. I chuckled because I thought she was kidding but she wasnt. In the end she was able to get 1,500 dollars back in her pocket after playing the game for two years. I would like to piggy back on Danilo comment and say "It is also sad when we humans pay money for objects that are not really especially when you could play the game yourself an potentially gain the object yourself." BTW: Another market out there is to pay really money to someone for the games money Gold/Silver/Copper.. Again, those that waste their money on something they could gain themselves by playing is a shame.

jeffersonian said...

The really interesting thing to me is not that people are willing to pay for something that isn't real (there's a long history of that in psychic hotlines, etc.).

What's interesting is that we've become so jaded and overloaded with things to do that we're actually outsourcing the act of being entertained. This is like paying someone to watch television for you.