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Tuesday, August 9, 2005
 
MMORPG Sweat Shops?
7:52 AM | Cord Kruse | 9 comments

In a recent feature article 1UP.com explored the consequences of gold "farming" in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games like World of Warcraft. In an effort to collect the most virtual gold to then trade for real world currency, some individuals have created what are essentially high tech sweat shops. Laboring in some cases for less than $200 a month, workers in countries like China spend long hours monitoring online characters as they collect gold.

Sack is the low man in these operations. "I work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the U.S. Lineage II server," he says. He works long, boring hours for low pay and gets no holidays. Carefully constructed macros do most of the work; Sack is just there to fend off the occasional player itching for a fight or game master who's hunting for these automated farming programs. "Everyone knows where the good places are, and GMs know that your account has been online for a whole month," he says. "[A GM will] message me asking, .Hello, what level are you, please?' I know he isn't asking my level; he just wants to know if [there's actually a person at the computer]."

How does it work? The macros for World of WarCraft, for example, control a high-level hunter and cleric. The hunter kills while the cleric automatically heals. Once they are fully loaded with gold and items, the "farmer" who's monitoring their progress manually controls them out of the dungeon to go sell their goods. These automated agents are then returned to the dungeons to do their thing again. Sack's typical 12-hour sessions can earn his employers as much as $60,000 per month while he walks away with a measly $150.

Despite using methods which many would call blatant exploitation, the owners of these organizations seem unapologetic. As one of the owners put it, "They get paid dirt. But dirt is good where they live."

For the entire article click the link below.

1UP.com: Wage Slaves


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