Playing Online Games for a Living
Serious Business in Playing Games
You’d never think that playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) like ‘World of Warcraft’ could ever make someone a living, but there are people around the world making real world money off playing these games. These games allow millions of people with Internet access the opportunity to run around an play a fantasy game wherein they kill monsters and win quests, but there’s a compelling aspect to the game called ‘leveling,’ which is a prime incentive to continue playing. Leveling means raising the status of an individual character through gaining experience points, and purchasing virtual items that can only be gained through virtual money that’s earned by killing virtual monsters. These games are so competitive that people with real jobs pay real money to professionals to do virtual work. This work transcends national boundaries, and many low-wage countries with good access to the Internet are home to professional MMORPG players who work for Westerners. They are called ‘farmers.’
Chinese Farmers Earning Virtual Gold
China is home to the most farmers. A Chinese farmer who plays a game can earn up to ten US dollars per day. They level a character, then turn control of that character over to a Western player, or sell the character via an auction service like Ebay. There are websites dedicated to selling virtual money – there are even exchange rates. The Chinese farmers play the game all day, earn gold (the usual virtual money standard in an MMORPG), then the gold is accumulated through professional leagues that exchange it for real-world money. The money is sold in-game by representatives of the exchange who have game characters used only for transfering game money. As the lines blur between virtual and real-world economies, some investors believe that there will be investment made via viable exchange rates between currencies like the US Dollar and gold in virtual games.