Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-glam-no-fun dept.

The Almighty Buck 553

An anonymous reader writes "This weekend's New York Times Magazine puts a human face to the 'gold farming' profession. Virtual world economist Julian Dibbell travels to Nanjing, China, for a look at the working conditions and first-hand experience of farming gold from virtual monsters as a way to make a living. From the article: 'At the end of each shift, Li reports the night's haul to his supervisor, and at the end of the week, he, like his nine co-workers, will be paid in full. For every 100 gold coins he gathers, Li makes 10 yuan, or about $1.25, earning an effective wage of 30 cents an hour, more or less. The boss, in turn, receives $3 or more when he sells those same coins to an online retailer, who will sell them to the final customer (an American or European player) for as much as $20. The small commercial space Li and his colleagues work in -- two rooms, one for the workers and another for the supervisor -- along with a rudimentary workers' dorm, a half-hour's bus ride away, are the entire physical plant of this modest $80,000-a-year business.'"

cancel ×

553 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Frost nova (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553893)

Frosty Chinese Piss

brought to you by ... (-1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554077)

... the thirty cents an hour Bill Gates pays people to post crap like that. $80,000 per year? There's more money than that available.

Re:brought to you by ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554127)

Eat a bowl of dicks, you open-source assbandit.

In memoriam (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554133)

So farewell then Bernard Manning; you were an unfunny, fat, racist bigot.

i look at it this way (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553913)

what is bad about gold farming? well, it allows some rich asshole to buy his way into a game he should have worked hard at. it destroys the concept of a meritocracy, and replaces it with aristocracy. hwever, there is no financial replacement for real skill. and so any such bad player behind a high level avatar will rapidly become apparent: a joke

furthermore, what is good about gold farming? well, some guy in china is actually feeding himself on the effort. this matters a whole hell of a lot more than some stupid game and the feelings of the players of that game in my book. real life survival is a whole hell of a lot more important than the romance of a MMORPG

so i vote: gold farming is fine by me

Military commissions (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554007)

For longer that the US has been around, persons of wealth used to buy military commissions which often involved them taking over some pre-established regiment, naval vessel crew, or outpost. Likewise placement in religious orders, bishops and so forth, did not involve working ones way up the hierarchy but buying a position. A seat at the House of lords did not come from merit.

Why does this bother you that rich folks can pay to play. Why should they not if they can? It's the way of the world and always has been.

Re:Military commissions (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554085)

Well in the case of something non-trivial, like the military, the reason why it's a Bad Thing is because then you end up with some rich incompetent running something that they have no business running. Which is not to say that the military is anything like a meritocracy in its current form, but it's a little better than cash-on-the-barrel-head.

That general point is true of more trivial activities, like games; if you destroy the meritocratic aspects in favor of pay-to-play (really, pay-to-advance; you already have to pay to play!) then you'll end up with a worse result, in most cases, overall. The difference due to putting people with either less skill, or less interest, in higher positions than they would otherwise occupy.

Time is Money (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554381)

The difference due to putting people with either less skill, or less interest, in higher positions than they would otherwise occupy.

What about people with less time?

I quit MMORPGs after Everquest almost helped me flunk out of college. I played the highest level character on the server. It was exhilarating; people wrote fan-fiction about my character, people I didn't even know. They would travel across the world to buy my wares--always the finest available on the server. I set the prices and controlled the economy. It was a lot of fun. Also: when I wasn't sleeping (3-4 hours a night), I was playing. It took literally 18-21 hours per day to stay "on top."

I know MMORPGs have changed a lot, but so have I. Several times since graduating I have seriously considered picking MMORPGs back up. But "serious" players basically have a part-time (or full-time!) job playing the game. The main thing holding me back at this point is that I will never again allow myself to be a "serious" player.

Time is money, money is time... you can, in the real world, usually buy one for large quantities of the other. The "for pay" model is problematic in real life for a lot of reasons, not just because someone doesn't "deserve" what they get but because good ideas can (and are) often buried under piles of money. But in a game, what's the difference? You think because you devote 40 hours a week, you deserve to have more fun than a subscriber who can't find a good group because he only plays 4 hours every Saturday? Because the economy and society on the server makes it impossible for casual players to ever see high-end gear or end-game content?

I've thought a lot about this, because I absolutely do not believe that the real-life purchase of political positions or military commissions is right or proper. But in a game, I don't see how letting someone invest their money while you're investing your time is an imbalance. I don't think those who invest extra money should have access to better content, necessarily, but maybe if I could spend a few extra dollars to have as much fun as those who spend a few extra hours, I would get back into the MMORPG scene. I have the interest and I have the skill, but I don't have the time, so for the moment, the only multiplayer games for me are on my console, with my opponents sitting on my couch.

Re:Time is Money (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554611)

I played the highest level character on the server. It was exhilarating; people wrote fan-fiction about my character, people I didn't even know. They would travel across the world to buy my wares--always the finest available on the server.

I don't think I'll ever get the stink of geekiness off of me after reading that.

there are 2 forms of acceptance (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554211)

1. accepting that which is ugly but immutable. such as death

2. accepting that which is ugly but changeable. such as the aristocracy, or classism, or repugnant contrasts between the rich and the poor

yes, you are correct, aristocratic abuses are an ancient scourge. so is slavery. so is racism. accept these things as well?

a meritocracy is difficult, and in a world of human beings, never 100% possible. so what? we should stop trying to be fair to one another just because people can be ignorant?

you're not wise, you're just a cynic, with no heart. when i read words like these:

Why does this bother you that rich folks can pay to play. Why should they not if they can? It's the way of the world and always has been

i think, frankly, that you're just a loser and an asshole. you have no human conscience, you have no sense of morality, you don't believe in social progress, which does actually exist in this world

i don't believe in karma, but if it existed, i'd wish you would be reborn as a dalit [wikipedia.org]

Re:there are 2 forms of acceptance (1)

Wog (58146) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554405)

You do realize that he's talking about a *game* and not anything important, right? And that the minor unbalancing in-game is what feeds quite a few families that don't have the luxuries you have?

he's not talking about a game (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554497)

he's talking about real life

in my parent post, i say as much: who cares if a rich guy buys into a game

but now read his comment again. he's not limiting is comments to a game, you're wrong. he's talking about accepting aristocracy in real life

Re:there are 2 forms of acceptance (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554431)

accepting that which is ugly but immutable. such as death
or your job getting outsource to india, or slanty-eyed goatfucking goons ruining your favourite game.

Re:there are 2 forms of acceptance (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554491)

you're not wise, you're just a cynic, with no heart.
He's not a cynic, he's a defeatist (maybe even a nihilist). By the Greek roots of the word, he's the opposite of a cynic -- rather than wanting to draw attention to the faults of society, he wants to accept that they exist and move on.

A cynic may ascribe the worst motivations to the actions of others, and may decry those actions -- but acceptance of them is antithetical to the cynical mind.

Sorry to get off on a tangent there, but as a proud cynic, I sometimes take it personally when people use the term to refer to a defeatist.

Re:there are 2 forms of acceptance (5, Interesting)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554511)

i think, frankly, that you're just a loser and an asshole. you have no human conscience, you have no sense of morality, you don't believe in social progress, which does actually exist in this world
Or he believes in capitalism. A person is good at X, say banking. He works 12 hours a day doing X and make a good amount of money as a result. This person enjoys video games but like many finds the grind annoying. Now his time is worth a lot to society and he has money so he pays someone else to do the grind for him.

What is exactly wrong with him paying someone else to do this for him? To gain gold for him? To level a character for him?

I mean are maids immoral to have now as well? House cleaners that come in once a weak? Gas station attendants? Car mechanics? Computer repairman? Lawyers? Accountans? Cooks? All of them are paid to do a task which someone else could do but for various reasons chooses to "outsource".

Re:there are 2 forms of acceptance (1)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554621)

It's a game. GAME. What, you pissed off because someone spent money to get what you spent all your hard-earned (ha!) time acquiring? I'm guessing, due to your statements that you're a hardcore player. I'm also guessing you have little else going for you in life, outside of maybe a trivial job. You need some perspective. Or a different hobby.

Re:Military commissions (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554419)

Why does this bother you that rich folks can pay to play. Why should they not if they can? It's the way of the world and always has been.

Always has been? You might learn a little bit about the history you misquote so freely.
 
Setting aside the use of influence and nepotism (which are fraternal - not identical, twins of outright purchase)...
 
Persons of wealth buying the positions (in the Church and in the Armed Services) isn't something that happened (or happens) in tribal societies - nor (in the Western) world does it happen today. (It was largely wiped out in the late 1800's to early 1900's.) It was rare in feudal Japan and virtually nonexistent in classical China. It was extremely rare in classical Greece and semi-common only in later period Rome. In fact in the Western world - the practice was only widespread from late medieval times to early modern times.
 
Or in short, no - it's not commonly the way of the world nor has it always been.

Fake Degrees given away to famous people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554633)

How is this different than those fake degrees that Universities given away to famous people. It cheapens the whole education experience.

Re:i look at it this way (1, Interesting)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554009)

I say the same here, but I'm curious...$1.25/100 gold pieces is fine and all, but how is it that they make so little money in a week? Is gold THAT hard to come by in-game? I could rack up 10,000 gil playing FF12 in an hour. Is gold harder to make playing online games?

Re:i look at it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554107)

Takes me about 10 minutes per gold

Re:i look at it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554221)

It really depends on the game. In World of Warcraft, the gold piece is the high end currency, after copper and silver. I've never played FF12 (or any of the final fantasies other than the first) so I have no idea comparitively how much a gil is. You're certainly not going to get 10,000 gold an hour in WoW, but that doesn't mean money is harder to come by in WoW than FF.

Re:i look at it this way (1)

Graff (532189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554607)

In World of Warcraft you can make around 100 gold per hour of work at level 70. If you are decently geared and know some prime locations that can go up but 100 gold an hour is a good rule of thumb. Given the economy of some nations $1.25 US per hour is probably not that bad of a wage for the workers although it certainly is no get rich quick scheme.

Re:i look at it the other way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554023)

First of all, anybody who plays video games for 12 hours a day is: a joke.

This WASTES the talents of youth, chinese, unemployed, or otherwise.

This creates an artificial financial system that is prone to manipulation by baddies.

They can make more doing other menial tasks, though less addictive and debilitating.

Reminds me of the poor slobs who sit pumping quarters into the slot...

So I vote, gold farming is dumb.

Bliz should sell gold directly and cut this business out before it gets out of hand.

Re:i look at it the other way (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554323)

Yes, working in a sweatshop making nike shoes is so much better.

Re:i look at it the other way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554377)

At least you learn how to sew and PRODUCE SOMETHING REAL.

What good can come of learning how to kill virtual deer?

Check and mate.

Re:i look at it the other way (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554583)

At least you learn how to sew
If its an assembly line system then they don't really learn how to sue. They learn how to repeat a single task for 12 hours a day.

and PRODUCE SOMETHING REAL.
*looks at google* God dammit, someone better tell them to close up shop since only making "REAL" items can ever make you successful.

What good can come of learning how to kill virtual deer?
You learn how to use a computer which is more useful in modern urban society. You likely learn about as much about sewing in a nike factory as you do about computers as a gold farmer. Possibly you also learn some things about social behavior and business.

Re:i look at it this way (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554035)

I completely agree. Seriously.

Who, really, is getting hurt by gold-farming? I mean, we're talking about a game, after all. And it's not even a game with PRIZES. It's not even a game you can WIN. What could the gold farmers possibly be taking away from other players, besides time? Time which they are spending on a GAME that they aren't obligated to play.

The only way to win WoW (5, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554227)

is to not play.

Who is really being hurt by steroids in baseball? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554299)

No-fucking-body.

But our culture hates cheaters, so we hate gold farmers.

Re:i look at it this way (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554421)

If the game is so badly designed that it's more fun to pay someone else to do 90% of the playing for you, then I can't help but wonder why people play it at all.

Re:i look at it this way (1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554637)

Being a level 23 million wizard is a status symbol, just like wearing a Rolex or driving a Hummer.

Or in two words: small cocks.

There are prices in wow (1)

Xentan (1089097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554433)

Just as a side note. There world wide PvP tournament hosted by blizzard with real prices. Wether gold farming has an impact on it, i leave unanswered.

Re:i look at it this way (5, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554587)

I completely agree. Seriously.

Who, really, is getting hurt by gold-farming? I mean, we're talking about a game, after all. And it's not even a game with PRIZES. It's not even a game you can WIN. What could the gold farmers possibly be taking away from other players, besides time? Time which they are spending on a GAME that they aren't obligated to play.


There is much more than meets the eye about the negative effects of gold farming.

In MMO games there is a lot of space shared by players. If player X is killing mobs in the same area as me, we'll have to share or fight for spawns, that's fine if we both use ingame tools. Now enter gold farmer with bots, insane knowledge of spawn patterns and times, and you won't find mobs to kill. In WoW for example, you can go around in zones and mine ore for your weapon that you want to craft as a blacksmith. Good luck, gold farmers are on ore veins the moment they appear. Gold farmers make it nearly impossible in many cases for legitimate players to collect items/resources/gold for themselves because gold farmers can (and do) monopolize entire regions of the game. People who played WoW can surely remember zones like Tyr's Hand being perma camped 24h a day by gold farmers.

Also, every time an exploit or bug is found, gold farmers exploit it massively and force the game company to bring down servers and fix them causing downtime for players. Not to mention you can kiss the game economy good bye. How many games have had their economy ruined because of gold farmers. Gold farmers abusing bugs/exploits not just flood the economy, they have no problems in griefing players (Final Fantasy Online) and monopolizing game content (WoW). Even if they get banned, they are back operating within hours. To them a ban from game is the cost of doing business, just like Microsoft and lawsuits against it.

And finally, in game currency can be used to gain advantage in PvP (buying gear, potions, consumables). PvP is competitive, maybe you don't care because it's a "game" but some people care because they want a leveled playing field. You know, having a game that's fair and fun ...

Gold farmers are a cancer to MMO games. Some people might not care, but these people negatively impact everyone's enjoyment of the game, be it because they destroy economies or hack or monopolize content. It's not healthy for games.

Newt Gingrich For President (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554181)


and let the Republicans finish their contract [google.com]
  ON America.

Cheers,
P. Studge

Re:i look at it this way (5, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554191)

well, it allows some rich asshole to buy his way into a game he should have worked hard at. it destroys the concept of a meritocracy, and replaces it with aristocracy. hwever, there is no financial replacement for real skill. and so any such bad player behind a high level avatar will rapidly become apparent: a joke

I think of it this way: a rich guy buys a top-of-the-line $5000 Digital SLR camera, and then he takes fifteen snapshots of his beagle, and doesn't really scream when his silver-spoon daughter drops it down the country club's marble terrace staircase a couple months later. The guy was a boor when he showed off this camera to his friend, who busted his ass to get through photojournalism school with a $500 camera. The guy was a boor when he recounted the complete "horror" story of how the insurance company denied his claim for full replacement. But you know he'll buy another $5000 camera when that beagle has her pups.

How has this honestly changed the profession of photography? His friend probably felt uncomfortable with the rich man's effortless and pointless consumerism, but his friend wasn't actually denied other opportunities when it came right down to it.

The MMORPG is a smaller economy but it works the same way. The real issue is the design of that game, and whether it can withstand such tilted gamesmanship. If the gold farmers or the insta-knighthood characters are really clogging up the playground by camping at all the spawn points and inflating the price of dragon eyeballs, then I would point to the playground designers, not the farmers and not the insta-knights.

mod parent up (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554285)

said what i said with 100x more wit and intelligence

Re:i look at it this way (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554265)


"what is bad about gold farming? well, it allows some rich asshole to buy his way into a game he should have worked hard at. it destroys the concept of a meritocracy, and replaces it with aristocracy. hwever, there is no financial replacement for real skill. and so any such bad player behind a high level avatar will rapidly become apparent: a joke"

That's completely wrong.

What can lots of gold buy you in WoW?

1) an epic mount
2) two professions, which yeild 3~4 epic gadgets

That's it. Nothing else. Nada.

You can't buy the badass items, you have to play the game to earn your tier 4/5/6 gear. No way around that.

Re:i look at it this way (1)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554565)

Mats for high-level enchants and blue/purp high level items on the AH

Re:i look at it this way (1)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554305)

You don't have to be rich to buy gold. I just hit Google up for WoW Gold and found about a hundred sites. A quick flip through them showed that about 100G is worth about US$50 - not bad. However, if the farmers themselves are getting short changed so bad ($1.25 / 100G) somebody is price gouging. Seems to me the farmers should make at least 25-50% of the cost.

Re:i look at it this way (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554327)



Gold-farming itself creaets inflation. Thus casual, and even not-so casual players, cant afford items they should be able to afford considering the time they spent online playing because of this inlfation. Thse people then considering buying from farmers and leading to even worse inflation.

Also. Gold farmers dont just farm gold. They also sell items. That messes with groups (ninja looters) and with the game economy.

Re:i look at it this way (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554403)

what is bad about gold farming? well, it allows some rich asshole to buy his way into a game he should have worked hard at.
Wow... those are SOME assumptions in your lead-in. I was firmly middle-class, not rich at all, when I bought plat for EverQuest. Why? Because I was playing with a guild which had demands on my time, and at the same time helping several friends get established in the game. It was the best way to trade a commodity that I did have (modest amounts of money for a hobby) for one that I did not have (time to further invest in the game). I spent about what I would have spent on any other hobby, I imagine. My friends didn't complain, as it turns out, nor did anyone in-game consider me an "asshole" at the time.

it destroys the concept of a meritocracy, and replaces it with aristocracy.
Fact: I will never be able to afford buying enough gold to match what a dedicated player in these games nets. But it's not a meritocracy with respect to the money... no one assigns any authority to someone on the basis of their in-game money (at best, you get oohs and ahhs for the fancy things you buy). Typically that's only a result of activities that gold can't buy: guild / raid organization; class and situational awareness; etc.

furthermore, what is good about gold farming? well, some guy in china is actually feeding himself on the effort. this matters a whole hell of a lot more than some stupid game and the feelings of the players of that game in my book. real life survival is a whole hell of a lot more important than the romance of a MMORPG
It can be argued that this is an important step in the development of a truly globalized economy, as well. You have an excellent point here.

Re:i look at it this way (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554447)

Just to clarify: I bought plat in EQ... so far I've never had to buy gold in WoW, and the prices are actually less reasonable anyway. The most expensive thing I'd want would be an epic flying mount, and I'm willing to wait and farm for that, as the process itself is fun, and I'm not over-committed like I was with EQ.

an interesting parallel with the whole ip thingy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554429)

am i the only one who registered this as an allusion to the whole "intellectual property" theme?

Re:i look at it this way (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554463)

So the fact that gold farming ruins in game economies and can make it impossible for newer players who won't buy gold to keep up with in game inflation. I'm not going to waste my time with one of the hundreds of unequal comparisons, but I must ask you this, is someone else earning money by damaging the quality of a service paid for by others ever acceptable?

yes (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554629)

when it's hurting a game played by a bunch of rich kids (and if you playing MMORPG for leisure, you are rich by any world standard), and some poor guy is feeding himself on the proceeds, then by all means, damage the quality of a service paid for by others, 100% acceptable

i really don't care that some rich kid thinks their expensive distraction is being hurt. as far as i am concerned, they are wasting their lives away in a fantasy game. really, i am completely uncompelled to care about how a fantasy game's gameplay is damaged. 100% do not fucking care

seems like a small example of social justice to me: poor kid makes some cash off of a rich kids useless distraction. i consider it an idiot tax, i love it

Re:i look at it this way (1)

aquasheep (681072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554581)

what is bad about gold farming?

Couple of points, specific to WoW:

First of all, for a long time, gold farmers were generally blamed for making the game less fun for "typical" users. They took up player spots on servers, which caused a lot of servers to have queues. This forced a lot of people to have to wait to get into the game during primetime hours (6-11pm). A lot of gold farmers tended to bother other players to give them buffs/conjured food/open locked boxes, usually pretty rudely. And, players that wanted to legitimately farm for their own gold had a harder time, because gold farmers would typically plant themselves in common, high-profit spots and camp spawns.

Secondly, visiting and buying from a lot of gold-selling sites puts you at risk to have your account stolen or hacked, either via key loggers or poor security on the buyer's part. Your account is stripped and liquidated, and that gold sold to others, creating a cycle that gives a very bad reputation to both gold farmers and gold sellers alike.

Third, for a while, gold seller sites would spam people in the game advertising their services, both through tells and through the in-game mail.

Now, recently, these aren't the problems that they used to be. I haven't seen a queue on my server in months, ever since the expansion it's been easier than ever to make money (less incentive for anyone buy gold), and with the most recent patch, Blizzard instituted controls to limit the amount of spam. That doesn't take away from the fact that gold farmers have accrued very bad reputations, and people who buy from gold sellers are generally seen as contributing to shady business practices.

Re:i look at it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554647)

well, some guy in china is actually feeding himself on the effort. this matters a whole hell of a lot more than some stupid game and the feelings of the players of that game in my book.

People could feed themselves doing anything to generate money. If he were instead stealing his way to making enough to live, that's ok, too? Who cares about the people he would steal from? Maybe he could make a living selling diethelyne glycol is glycerin. Who cares what they wind up using the stuff for?

While I won't make a moral equivalence to mucking up a video game to killing people, when it "at least they can feed themselves" ever a justification? I mean, China is a communist nation, right? So, where is all this support of the community that's supposed to keep him from starving?

To think he could be working actually producing something of value instead.

Gold Farmer == Sub-Human (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553917)

If only there was some kind of final solution to this problem.

Netcraft confirms it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553953)

Wow is dying [gigaom.com] .

Office league slow pitch softball. Look into it.

Cost of living? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553979)

What is the cost of living for that area? How much does that 10 Yuan a week compare to other salaries?

Re:Cost of living? (3, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554165)

The average yearly income of a resident living in rural China is about $315 per year. (2004 numbers) [chinadaily.com.cn] . Urban residents like those in Beijing make about 5 to 10 times that amount. Which, compared to America, is still not a lot.

Re:Cost of living? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554523)

Yeah, saying that they earn 30 cents an hour is completely meaningless unless you know how much it costs them to buy food and clothing, rent a room, pay for other essentials and luxuries. Might as well just give their earnings in Gil.

A sad state of affairs (4, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553995)

At his workstation in a small, fluorescent-lighted office space in Nanjing, China, Li Qiwen sat shirtless and chain-smoking, gazing purposefully at the online computer game in front of him.

They've built a mom's basement in China where they can all do it better for half the price. Even geeks aren't immune from outsourcing.

If any of you have access to good prices for bulk tissue and lotion, I have a great idea for the next activity to outsource to China. Access to a tiled area with good drainage a must.

gold farming is all well and good... (-1, Troll)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553997)

unless it goes to funding terrorism. Do you know who you're buying gold from? It could be the blue-collar favorite who needs the 30 cents per hour, or it could be someone to whom "death to america" is not a mad TV joke!

Buy from certified free range, organic farmers. (0, Redundant)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554119)

Don't risk YOUR dollars going to a terrorist organization!

Buy gold from certified free range, organic gold farmers.

Look for the Union Label.

Okay, now someone else come up with the cute union name for gold farmers. Extra points if the acronym is equally amusing.

Re:gold farming is all well and good... (1)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554177)

I'm willing to pay 30cents an hour for some "terrorist" to play 12 hours of WOW a day. Not much time life to pay for jihad after that anyways. Not that your income tax doesn't go toward funding oppressive regimes accross the world. And your paying much more then 30 cents an hour for that priviledge.

Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (4, Insightful)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554015)

I have no problem with some Chinese people making money off of selling "farmed gold" to rich gamers in the West, but the fact that more than 90% of what the customer pays goes to middlemen, rather than the "farmer", in a set of transactions conducted entirely on the internet is rather rankling.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

Sheltim (673293) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554289)

I find it interesting that the article doesn't talk about the whole secondary industry that's popped up as a result of the popularity of gold sellers: spam and anti-spam measures. I couldn't care less about whether or not people sell gold. What I do care about is that I get a poorly worded or even gibberish whisper every two minutes from some character asking me to buy gold. Often the whisper doesn't even include the website or the name of the company! It's almost as bad as email now.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554311)

This is what happens when you have cronyism in the guise of capitalism, paired with vastly disparate wages between the workers and mangement/ownership.

The workers in this sistuation do not have the contacts or capital necessary to get the required permits to run a business like this, let alone the capital for equipment and workspace. This is compounded by high unemployment in areas of China, so that workers are easily replaced.

It amuses me to no end (until I think of the hardships endured) that a nation whose ideals are founded on collectivism has near-powerless workers in the employment market.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554649)

I don't think you can say that China is really founded on ideals of collectivism. More like Confucianism, which teaches subservience to authority. Collectivism is a new thing in China, and the rulers there have never done more than pay lip service to it's ideals.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

legojenn (462946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554329)

Maybe someone should create an fair-trade gold business where the farmers get paid a fair wage.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554521)

I'm slightly surprised Blizzard doesn't just sell gold directly. They can always undercut sellers who actually have to play the game, since 'farming' gold for them is just updating a number in a database somewhere. If a market rate for gold exists, why aren't they selling it themselves?

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554663)

but the fact that more than 90% of what the customer pays goes to middlemen
 
90% is a heck of a good deal for the originator compared to real physical goods examples in the world. Look at how much diamond miners in the Congo and Sudan are paid: they get not shot for digging up diamonds. Comparatively these Chinese guys, who work in an office and get company housing, are living like kings. I spent over a month in China last year and 30 RMB goes a long way; you can eat out on the local equivalent of cheap fast food all 3 meals and have plenty of change. And the Chinese are seriously frugal; I get they put 28 of those 30 in savings. They're not getting rich in a hurry but there are MANY more people in the world who need our concern, like the aforementioned diamond miners in the real world.

Re:Internet commerce, but 90% goes to middlemen. (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554667)

China is a country full of middle men. It's part of their culture. Instead of streamlining processes to make them more efficient, they intentionallty make processes inefficient, due to abundant labor. This is certainly one aspect of Chinese culture that grates on my nerves as well, and it took some adjustment for me.

BF2142 (1)

deanoaz (843940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554017)

I wonder if I could hire these guys to make me Supreme Commander?

Ultimate simulation (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554019)

"well, it allows some rich asshole to buy his way into a game he should have worked hard at."

In this respect, it's just like real life.

The thing I found most amazing was that after a 12-hour shift grinding, some of these guys played their own toons for fun.

Re:Ultimate simulation (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554125)

The thing I found most amazing was that after a 12-hour shift grinding, some of these guys played their own toons for fun.


That proves it then, crack's got nothing on WoW!

Putting things in perspective (4, Informative)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554029)

30 cents an hour amounts to about 48 dollars per month. Putting things in perspective, when I lived in Asia, that was more or less the normal wage of a janitor. Not a lot of money, and life conditions are poor with those wages- but the money goes a long way compared to the same kind of money in western 'civilization'. In those countries, 30 bucks pretty much buys you nutricious, delicious, high-quality all you can eat for 8 people. 20 cents amounts to a liter of petrol which goes a long way as well in those cranky noisy motorcycles of theirs.

Re:Putting things in perspective (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554295)

20 cents amounts to a liter of petrol which goes a long way as well in those cranky noisy motorcycles of theirs.

Hm...

Could they maybe send some of that to the US, where it definitely costs more than 80 cents/gallon?

Re:Putting things in perspective (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554615)

They could, but then taxes would just bring the price to our current level. So what's the point?

30 cents an hour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554039)

What TFA doesn't mention is that 30 cents an hour is about the average wage in China. That would be similar to making $16 an hour in the US. To play a video game.

Re:30 cents an hour (1)

PYRILAMPES (609544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554325)

Make it real then, Give them an Avatar for the Avatar that is sitting in a small room in China killing raccoons to earn gold to sell at a market. Then they could relive their own menial existence farming gold for people who spend their yearly salary on PS3 to buy the gold they produce.

it's only going to get worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554045)

Mindark, the guys running Project Entropia, recently set up a deal with China to have a full universe of planets and things... along with the recent addition of banks (i.e. pawn shops, which aren't up yet, but should be soon) this whole thing is just going to get worse instead of better... in PE you actually can make money... pay won't be as good as the stuff mentioned in article though, but could be if the employers figure out the system the right way... I can just see real "sweat shops" collecting sweat off the mobs of Calypso all day... kinda makes me not want to be a Calypsan anymore...

100 gold coins for $1.25... (2, Interesting)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554049)

so that means that if he is earning 30c/hour then he is only collecting like 25 gold coins in an hour. Seems to me if he'd work harder he could make a bit more than that. I don't exactly know how common gold is in WoW, but it seems to me that after a month or so of work, his character would be of sufficient level to be making a lot more money than that.
 
What other job do you know of that putting extra work actually incurs better pay? How many of you wish you got payed on scale with how productive you were? (obviously joking since we are all at work wasting away on Slashdot)

Re:100 gold coins for $1.25... (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554145)

No, 25 gold in an hour is pretty damned good, even for a max level character. That's certainly better than I ever did.

Re:100 gold coins for $1.25... (5, Informative)

RichMan (8097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554167)

This is WoW related as WoW is the biggest game.

1g = 100silver = 10,000 copper

When you start. You start with copper coins.

Your mount at level 40 costs ~100g.
Your mount at level 60 costs ~600g.
Your mount at level 70 costs ~1000g.
Your fast mount at level 70 costs ~6000g.
6000g = 60,000,000 copper

The game is designed with a rudimentary economy that despite the unlimited gold from killing things is designed to eat up money for repairs and other equipment costs. It is easy to spend all your money on shiny objects.

Top end quests are worth 10-20g for completing.

Re:100 gold coins for $1.25... (1)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554515)

Farming doesn't involve completing quests though... it is 100% grinding... then when you get a blue/purple item you auction it off, vendor the rest, and if you get a green you use your enchanter character to disenchant it into materials to sell at the auction house...

Right now the prices that are getting paid to suppliers are about $30-40(on a good day) for 1000g so it is more like $3. Sometimes it spikes higher. The real money comes from european gamers, where gold costs a lot more.

Of course, sales to gamers of 1000g would run about $84... so that shows you where the real money is going I guess.... (but the seller's expenses are HUGE)

Or you could just run a ton of bots. Level 60 characters sold wholesale go for $100 now and you can bot it up in the free month you get with the $20 ($17 at sams club) game

Re:100 gold coins for $1.25... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554209)

Online poker - if you win consistently, you make more money. If you multitable, you make more money. If you take the time to analyse the weaknesses in your game and improve, you make more money.

Re:100 gold coins for $1.25... (1, Flamebait)

ControversialMatt (1070718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554249)

so that means that if he is earning 30c/hour then he is only collecting like 25 gold coins in an hour. Seems to me if he'd work harder he could make a bit more than that. I don't exactly know how common gold is in WoW, but it seems to me that after a month or so of work, his character would be of sufficient level to be making a lot more money than that. The thing is, the gold dropped by mobs at level 70 (the current max) is directly related to one's gear. As you level and get better items your repair costs increase, and since dying causes a 10% durability penalty , these costs can get fairly high later on, especially if the character is wearing plate armor.

I found this entire article humorous, the author is trying to romanticize gold farmers. The thing is, they don't do quests, they don't PvP unless absolutely necessary, they just farm one zone 24/7. I will continue feeling nothing but contempt toward anyone who buys gold, who needs to cheat because he or she cant cut it, and I'll feel sorry for these Chinese people, but in the end I'll still gank them in game whenever and wherever I find them.

Sounds like a great deal for us Westerners... (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554089)

100 gold coins takes this guy Li 4 hours to come across. He gets paid $0.30 for it. I pay the end seller $5 for the same 1 hour of coins (25 gold coins). So I'm basically saving myself 1 hour (or more, if Li is extra-efficient) for the low cost of $5. Sounds like a winning situation for me.

As for Li, it sounds like a good place to start also. It's a new market, and in all new markets people have to work for peas (or less) to until the market breaks open. We might see Li running his own show in 5 years (or we may not).

Until then, he gets to work indoors, on a computer, smoke as much as he wants (try that in the US!), and learn a skill that some may consider mundane, but shows a helluva lot of marketability with a longterm and bright future. Now it sounds like a win-win situation.

Re:Sounds like a great deal for us Westerners... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554347)

smoke as much as he wants (try that in the US!)

With the added advantage of now he doesn't have to worry too much about saving for retirement ;)

Re:Sounds like a great deal for us Westerners... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554481)

Until then, he gets to work indoors, on a computer, smoke as much as he wants (try that in the US!), and learn a skill that some may consider mundane, but shows a helluva lot of marketability with a longterm and bright future. Now it sounds like a win-win situation.

And don't forget he get's a free WoW account.

Very hard to imagine (5, Insightful)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554093)

I really like the part where he was saying that he was making less money as a vehicle repairman. It really brings the discrepency of money accross the world to light. Although the shifts seems fairly excessive they seem to be able to live off of it decently. I really have a problem seing the downside to it. Besides the fear of taxation and policing by the providers of the game. They are providing a service for a fee. If people weren't willing to pay for it they wouldn't exist. Inflation works both ways. If people with more money buy the best gear its easy for the people not willing to pay up for their gold to make a lot of money selling the gear they get for profit. Really isn't it about finding what makes the game fun for you and doing that part of it?

No problems here (3, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554097)

If it were my game I would not mind that people were gold farming. But I don't own it, Blizzard does, so they get to define what the rules are. Although I think it's pointless to fight things like gold farming, it would seem more practical to embrace it and have some control over it. (like set up a currency exchange rate for it).

One thing gold farming does is exploit a weakness in a games economic system. Which can introduce imbalance through inflation. But this is countered somewhat because NPCs don't participate in the free market and have (generally) fixed pricing. But the price for things you can't buy from an NPC just sky rockets as the gold farming persists. the buying power of your gold will just keep going down as long as it is easy to get. just shell out the price of two months subscription and you are set for a good deal of time on gold, at least for normal in-game purchases.

Re:No problems here (1)

ControversialMatt (1070718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554385)

One thing gold farming does is exploit a weakness in a games economic system. Which can introduce imbalance through inflation. But this is countered somewhat because NPCs don't participate in the free market and have (generally) fixed pricing. But the price for things you can't buy from an NPC just sky rockets as the gold farming persists. the buying power of your gold will just keep going down as long as it is easy to get. just shell out the price of two months subscription and you are set for a good deal of time on gold, at least for normal in-game purchases. Not really. The only thing that people would buy off of a vendor of any monetary consequence are mounts. The vast majority of the rest of the money is spent in the Auction Houses, things like Primals, Bind on Equip Epic level items, Rare quality gems, and the like. Now if you introduce more money into the system, through farmers and the like, these prices will also rise, making those of us who don't chose to be pathetic cheaters work a lot harder for these items, and causing some people, whether they like it or not, to purchase more gold to buy said items. Thus the vicious cycle continues.

The lesson here is an obvious one (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554121)

You need to hire your own Chinese guys to farm gold for you! There's a 1600% markup on Chinese gold, if you go through the retailer.

Living wage in China? (3, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554135)

I haven't found any really concrete numbers or sites, but it sounds like a living wage in china is $3/day. At $.30/hr these guys have a pretty easy job compared to a lot of the textile and merchandise manufactures where people are getting paid less per hour in much more dangerous environments.

-Rick

"Manual" labor (1)

nlitement (1098451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554155)

Why do you need people sitting around at in a ball-sweating cubicle, busting balls or getting their balls busted, when you can just use BOTS to harvest gold? Is there some kind of a barrier that stops you from using trainers or bots to farm gold? Plus, you don't have to hire people for work. This whole thing is really surreal, I mean, that guy probably barely gets his bread at a whopping $600 monthly salary by playing some GAMES!?!! If that's how you feed yourself, then fuck WoW. I mean, that game was meant for some you to relax on weekends and playing with friends, not to earn all of your living with it!

Re:"Manual" labor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554495)

I mean, that game was meant for some you to relax on weekends and playing with friends, not to earn all of your living with it!

hi,
your reality may differ more than slightly than his, mine, or anyone else anywhere in the world.
For example, some people don't really ever "relax on the weekend". Some people have more than
one job. People make money doing the strangest things. For example, people grow their hair out
just to have it cut off and sold to someone that is willing to pay for it. From what I understand,
you get in where you fit it. Some people would rather "gold farm" than steal I am guessing.
Your indignance that people have to earn a living from a game that is supposed to be fun is
admirable but misplaced. There are worse places for these people to be, for example the
brick making slaves that were recently rescued in..... you guessed it, China. Interestingly enough
here in the west, people make money from games too, they are called athletes, gamblers and gamers.

Made in China (1)

KarlH420 (532043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554203)

Nothing new here. Who makes all the stuff they sell in Walmart? Look at your cloths, shoes, electronics.. "made in china"

not as bad as it sounds? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554205)

$0.30/hour sounds like just enough to afford food while sleeping in a shed, but when you consider that housing is also provided, it's not so bad.

Seriously, for $0.30/hour, you only have to work 1 hour per day to afford three meals of delicious ramen noodles. So with 1 hour of work, you have food and housing, and the other $3.30 you earn per day is free to be spent on hookers and blow. A good life.

My two copper. (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554269)

I both love and loathe gold/item farmers. First, the reasons why I loathe them (most of these should be obvious to anyone that plays any MMO...I will stick to WoW since that is what most people play) For one, it helps to drive low-level blue prices to completely INSANE levels. Yes, I am aware that this is also because of twinks, but I am quite sure many people twink their toons out with gold that they have purchased. A general increase in the cost of everything (due to more players having gold in hand) also occurs...thus you have speed potions which sell for as high as 10 gold per stack of 5 on some servers, etc. Farmers also inevitably make it harder for a player to farm for him/herself; I like farming the same places they do for the same reasons that they do! Now, for why I love them. As previously stated, someone on the other end is indeed being fed and kept warm because of gold farming...Blizzard makes even more money due to the multiple account purchases meaning they have more money to invest back into the game. Gold farmers also help increase the supply of items on the AH (unfortunately, they are generally overpriced though...) All in all, the biggest issue I have with it are people standing in the cities with an incomprehensible name spamming of /say adverts for various gold-selling sites. If it weren't for the in-game economic impact (which isn't as drastic as people think it is) and the /say spam, I frankly wouldn't have a problem with WoW farmers at ALL. Besides. It makes it easy to tell if someone actually PLAYS the game or not (Hint: if they are decked out in BoE blues/purples, they don't play the game.)

Re:My two copper. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554317)

ugh. sorry for the "one paragraph", I meant to hit plain text but completely forgot -_-;;

If they wanted to make more (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554279)

They should try cornering sectors of the market in the AH. I make more money trading there with my lvl 20 char than I do questing, buying from people at low prices and selling at higher.

Re:If they wanted to make more (1)

ControversialMatt (1070718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554471)

They do, check the prices on some servers of Super Healing and Super Mana potions.

Trade Imbalance (0)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554351)

Just another category of imbalanced trade for the current account weenies in the Treasury Department. The only thing I want to know is, if you look on the back of the gold coin after you buy it from the online retailer, does it say Made in China?

Oppertunity for pro-poor development (5, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554369)

Here's a challenge to all of Slashdot: Cut out the middlemen.

Gold-farming isn't going away, but at least it could be a positive social force, fighting global inequality while building IT capacity in the developing world. As it is, most of the money is going to middlemen. But the product is virtual, and we can bring farmers to markets at potentially no cost. If 100 gold (or whatever the unit) retails for $20 in the west, then let's transfer that money into technology cooperatives in developing countries, who use their non-gaming hours to provide email, web access and other vital resources to their communities. Wouldn't you rather buy 'gold' from a fair trade source? Given the enormous markup, it might even lower prices. And here's the kicker: A community center could have kids playing for free in exchange for donating "gold" to pay the bills. Along the way, maybe they take attend a class on HTML programming, and start thinking more like IT professionals than farmers. Suddenly buying "gold" starts feeling a lot less exploitive.

So have at it:
1) We need a web portal to connect buyers and sellers directly. Can ebay do it? If not, how?
2) We need to explore a certification model, such as TransFair USA's fair trade certified produce.
3) We need a start-up information kit with instruction on how to open a community technology center (such as Room to Read's), but financed by gold farming.
4) We need a micro-credit source to pay for hardware and software.
5) We need a marketing movement within the gaming community.

 

Inaccurate (1, Insightful)

WapoStyle (639758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554597)

I stopped reading at "Night-Elf Wizards" Anyone who plays knows that Night Elves cannot be wizards. I don't care of the focus of the article is somewhere else, if they over looked that detail, how many other details did the reporter overlook? I despise inaccurate information.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554627)

I play, and did not know that Night Elves could not be wizards.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?