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  Invasion of the Gold Farmers  
Posted 2005-12-09 by Tony Walsh
The online gaming community is buzzing about the latest (and possibly most detailed to date) article on Chinese "gold farmers." These are people who work in sweatshop-like conditions harvesting virtual resources in online games for a living, and are becoming increasingly visible in game environments. Reporter David Barbosa visited Chinese gold-farming facilities for his New York Times article "Boring game? Hire a player," reprinted at the International Herald Tribune's site. Here's the digest:
  • Global online gaming enjoys an audience of 100M players each month.
  • The Chinese government estimates there are 24M online gamers in the country.
  • 100k youths work in China as full-time gamers.
  • Gold farmers one facility work in 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, and make about $250 USD per month. At another facility, workers made $75 USD per month.
  • Most players make under $0.25 USD per hour
  • The gold-farming industry generates $3.6B USD per year.
  • Sweatshop owner: " some of these popular games, 40 or 50 percent of the players are actually Chinese farmers."
When playing a game is your job, is it still a game?
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Comment posted by csven
December 9, 2005 @ 1:42 pm
I liked the "hard labor" comment at the end the best.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
December 9, 2005 @ 6:21 pm
I liked the quote about taking over the virtual world. There's a lot of truth to that apparent throw-away comment. I can only see gold farmers and rental-players increasing in number in the coming years.
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