Let's face it. Gold farming and RMT are the bane of many players' experiences in MMOs. Bots spam poorly-spelled gold ads in every MMO title with anything even resembling an in-game economy. From a player's perspective, it's a huge problem, and not surprisingly leads many to dislike the idea of RMT. But aside from the occasional media coverage of 'digital sweatshops,' most of us know relatively little about how gold farming operations are actually run, or what effects they have on real world society.
Professor Richard Heeks from the University of Manchester has put together a substantial piece of work on gold farming. The Working Paper's abstract states Heeks' intention "to provide the first systematic analysis of the sub-sector." The paper is titled "Current Analysis and Future Research Agenda on 'Gold Farming': Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games." (Say that three times fast.) It provides an overview of gold farming followed by an in-depth analysis of its economics, sociology, enterprise, and development. In terms of development, the paper considers the benefits gold farming may create, particularly for workers in Asia. While there is a wealth of information in Heeks' work, one aspect that stands out is a question it raises: Which is more important in the grand scheme of things, socioeconomic progress for people in real life, or the enjoyment of a game?
The bright side of gold farming?
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