Reading the article, Chinese Gold Farmers, I was at first surprised that people actually spent real world money to buy virtual ‘goods,’ but the more I thought about it, the less shocked I was. Is it really that surprising that people in other countries are being paid less then minimum wage and working extreme hours? Realizing that factory work has transferred over into virtual work shows how far technology has come. Playing these virtual games has become a lifestyle for some people, so advancing in this ‘game’ or ‘life’ comes at a price. People are now willing to pay others real money for better avatars, weapons, goods, and ects. When reading the Castronova on Virtual Worlds, something that really stood out to me was the idea that “The attraction of the VW lies in its ability to replicate the physical and economic world of Earth, with slight but significant changes in the rules” (pg. 32). The idea that “you only have one life to live” isn’t necessarily true any longer with the creation of virtual worlds. The digital space has allowed people to create not necessarily a ‘better’ version of themselves but ‘different’ then their offline life. Through mimicking Earth spaces, virtual worlds attract more consumers who are willing to pay money to ‘better’ this “new” life. “These changes – such as granting people the freedom to have whatever appearance and skills they wish – are sufficient to generate a society and a flavour of daily life that is so attractive that many thousands of people apparently consider themselves permanent residents” (Castronova; pg. 32). People are not just paying traders to advance in the game, they are paying to actually play the game. Therefore, they are paying to be part of an online society. World of Warcraft is an online multi-player game that has a monthly fee that gamers need to pay in order to be able to log on and play in this virtual world. Since people are paying to even to play the game, is it so shocking that avid players want to pay real world money for potions, powers, and level-up — I don’t think so.
Though I never played World of Warcraft, I remember an online game that I used to play in elementary school called Toontown. This online game featured animal avatars who were dressed as people, and you ran around the different towns, interacted with other avatars or players, played challenges for coins, and tried to get rid of the bankers. The sign up for the game was initially free, but then after a trial, you had to pay monthly. Sound familiar? Paying for games has existed for many years and will continue to be a profiting business. No matter the age or gender, companies or private businesses will find a way to target consumers to get their money.