Gold Farming: 400,000 Asian Workers Play “Dull” Video Games to Pad Americans’ Scores

It’s called gold farming: video-game players perform routine tasks to gain points or abilities for other players. Such games often require the sacrifice of time to performing repetitive actions necessary to advance levels. So, what’s a time-strapped player to do?  Outsource part of playing the game.

Here’s a link to such a service.

Rowenna Davis in the UK’s Guardian describes working conditions for some of the estimated 400,000 workers who currently play the dull parts of games:

The working conditions are hard. We don’t get weekends off and I only have one day free a month. But compared to other jobs it is good. I have no other skills and I enjoy playing sometimes…

After completing his shift, Li is given a basic meal of rice, meat and vegetables and falls into a bunk bed in a room that eight other gold farmers share. His wages may be low, but food and accommodation are included.

The estimated size of the gold farming business (400k-500k) is based on research by Professor Richard Heeks, head of the development informatics group at Manchester University.

What does it mean for Americans to be outsourcing their recreation? What kind of game can be so dull, yet so compelling, that you pay others to play it for you?

There is an economic recession in the US, but it seems premature to draw parallels to the Great Depression as long as obesity is a bigger national issue than malnutrition, and as long number of Americans outsourcing game-playing to developing nations continues to increase.

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