by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
In the January issue of Scientific American, there is an article that talks about how virtual gold farmers on giant MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and RuneScape are generating a real world economy. It seems that becoming a virtual gold farmer is a legitimate way for those living in third world economies to make a living that is similar to what a factory worker would make. As a matter of fact, the virtual gold farming industry is huge in countries like India and Central America.
Here’s how it works. Players in MMORPGs don’t want to spend the time that it takes to earn gold, do the tasks necessary to level, etc. So instead, they turn to gold farmers, who spend their days amassing the gold (or experience) while sitting in tiny cubicles next to other gold farmers who are doing the same. I have no idea how they amass this wealth because I’ve never played an MMORPG – I am vaguely familiar with them, however, because my kids do. Anyway – the real person driving the character then somehow finds these people with mined resources for sale, makes a payment through Paypal or some other online payment source and then their character hooks up with the gold miner’s character at a predetermined virtual place where the transaction is completed.
It all seems so odd and foreign to me, having grown up in the age of Pong and having taken one of the earlier programming classes available at my high school. To me, the concept of virtual economies driving real economies seems like something out of science fiction. And yet it is a reality that many spend more time in virtual worlds than they do in the real world. It makes me wonder how long before our world becomes virtual and the real world no longer holds much allure for us.
In some ways, I suppose I can see the allure of this. In a virtual world, you can create yourself and, to some extent, you can control the world that you interact with. I’m told you can die repeatedly. In a way, in a virtual world, the players are like gods – creators and created.
I can’t go on very long here, because as I say, I only have a passing familiarity with MMORPGs. I just find this whole thing fascinating – how the virtual world and the real world are interacting in real and tangible ways. Still, I think that until all of the people disappear from the real world into virtual ones, I’ll stick with real life. For me, that holds far more appeal.
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