Maybe you’ve heard of MMORPGs. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Role-Playing Games are like Dungeons & Dragons, where you pretend to be a wizard or elf or something and go adventuring. Throughout the course of these games, your fictional character will slowly increase in strength and experience, finding treasure and acquiring more powerful weapons and whatnot to fight even stronger baddies… potentially an endless cycle till you get tired of it. And the Massive Multiplayer Online versions are these fictional worlds where thousands of players from around the world login to these servers (for a monthly fee, of course) and pretend to be wizards or elves or whatever (well, they don’t all have fantasy settings. Maybe you’re a cyborg or a pirate or a ninja).
So of course, a time comes when a player says “y’know, my 14th level half-elf half-wookie necromancer has an extra Sword of Kebabing, and I’ve already got more in-game money than I would ever need… I wonder if someone else playing the game might pay me some Real World money if I offered to give them my in-game sword?” And so it happened that RPG idiots began buying completely fucking nonexistent property with their real existent hard currency. And then some money-hungry gamers began turning this into a business, earning all kinds of fictional in-game money and then selling it outside the game for dollars and cents (made easier by programming automatic commands and exploiting glitches in the game program).
Then someone apparently got the idea to go to China and hire people there to grab this fictional money for 56 cents an hour. Yes, working in the virtual coalmine.
According to the article, the “farming”of MMORPGs for cash is a $500 million a year industry. I really hope that’s bullshit.
So I think we can all tell, this is fucked up on about 15 different levels.
1) RPGs in general. I enjoy playing them when they are single games with distinct beginnings and endings. There’s a story, you play till it’s done, the end. I think that half the appeal of these things is the “building” aspect. When you play chess, both sides begin evenly matched. Now imagine that if playing chess frequently meant that your pieces started off more powerful than they were last time. That rewards your efforts, even if you haven’t learned any more chess skills. That has appeal.
2) MMORPGs in general. I never play these as they seem so addictive, to some people anyway. Without defined endings or stories, you can just keep playing and building your character forever. And some folks do. For around $15 a month.
3) BUYING FAKE SHIT. It just boggles the mind that people are paying money for stuff that doesn’t exist. Oh, pardon me, “virtual” items. The fact that people will spend their money on this… damn, I just can’t fathom it.
4) Fake Shit Sweatshops. People paying other people shit wages to sit there at a computer to play these games 12 hours a day. Well, the article says that the owners of these “farming” companies set up macros so that the game characters automatically go and fight the monsters and win the game money, so the employees aren’t actually “playing” anything, just watching the same repetitive fight scenes over and over just in case the computer needs a ctrl-alt-del or to convince the in-game rent-a-cops that no, you’re not just a macro earning money, you are a human being. Sort of. And while the conditions do seem to be better than sweatshops, the pay is par for that slummy course.
So, in conclusion, the whole world is crazy except for me.
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