Almost everything comes back to money, it seems. Like, always. Even the fun and joy of playing your favorite game—yeah, there’s people counting dollars off your love.

It was interesting to see that some gamers get paid for what they do, to create stuff within their online fantasy world for other people to buy with actual dollars. But aside from that, Dibbell points out that games have an economic system built within them. Whatever the form of currency, many games require some form of moola.

Even non-adventure games call for a certain number of coins to access a higher level. Take mobile app games like Bejeweled, for example. In Bejeweled, using spins before actually playing gives you access to certain Boosts to help raise your score. But spins can cost money. And then coins can cost a lot of money.


When playing trivia games on Sporcle’s app, new questionnaires usually cost two tokens. If you only have one when you click Play Game, a pop up asks you to buy tokens:


Aside from actually needing to spend money (after buying the game) to play with complete access, there are some gamers who get paid to play. YouTubers like PewDiePie, who is currently the No. 1 most subscribed user with over 25 million followers, are all about games. He plays games and makes videos about them, plays some more games and makes some more videos. And he makes money doing so.

It’s clear that the business of making money in no way stops when you hit the online world. For companies like IBM in fact, the virtual world of Second Life can save a lot of money. IBM held conferences in Second Life, which saved them costs on venues, planes, and time—and human connections were still made over the Internet even though the attendees weren’t physically in the same space.

While I think those doing work get adequate credit, there is definitely room in the online realm for exploitation. But there’s room for exploitation in the offline world too. It’s sad and unfortunate—but when there’s $$$ to be made, some people do get stepped over whether the business works offline or online.