The first time I heard about people buying upgrades, loot and levels in video games with real world dollars I was confused. At first I couldn’t comprehend why someone would spend real, actual money on virtual goods, something that can be earned through hard work and time. But then again, back in my heavy gaming days I was fascinated by console games, action adventure, RPG, and shooting games that had a minimum length of 12 hours and a maximum of more than 60 hours to collect and earn everything in the game, if you even had the patience for that. I was not entrenched in the absorbing practice o MMO gaming, where a player may put 60+ hours in per week, and can probably play indefinitely, so basically forever. In the face of these odds and the actual time and effort someone has to put in to obtain higher rewards I can understand the economy of paying for these things. I then thought that it was pretty unfair that certain people who can afford it can take a huge shortcut around the work required to obtain certain accomplishments. The work put in for these accomplishments is a big part of what makes it so rewarding for me personally. And cheating that system in an enviroment where you can buy your way to better levels than the people that put the work in feels like an injustice. Of course not anywhere near the injustice of the people who are forced to supply labor to this economy for a few bucks an hour. Probably the most astounding thing about the gold farmers article was the revelation that these workers still feel like they’re having fun sometimes, and even choose to continue playing the game during work breaks. I think that is a shocking and perhaps scary testament to the compelling nature of gaming mechanics and how much fun games really are.
It’s astounding that there are such thriving economies embedded in virtual worlds, and that companies like IBM are delving more into using aspects of games to improve company functions. But at least I can understand it. So many people in older generations not only can’t understand it, but don’t accept it, or really any other internet based jobs. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard older people say, “Kids are studying Facebook and Twitter. They’re wasting their time, you can’t do anything with that!” Meanwhile when me and my friends are applying to jobs, all we see are dozens and dozens of positions for “Social Media Interns”, and “Online Marketing”. And realizing there are full time paid jobs for these sorts of things. Even I was shocked when I was applying for a summer internship and the first essay question on the application was, “What are your favorite Vine or Instagram accounts”. I was embarrassed to realize that I have not yet taken time to browse through these particular platforms, and had to put that application on hold.