When I first began to play MMORPGs I never really thought of the economy was as powerful as these articles show it to be. Saw the gold inside the game – to be just that – a virtual form of currency, having no use in the real world. Like many others back then, I spent a majority of my childhood playing RuneScape. I clicked on the trees and cut them down, I made potions, I fought dragons, and I made a lot of virtual currency doing so. RuneScape, and other games like it, were just a form of entertainment to me, until I decided to look deeper. I found some avatars that were just constantly cutting wood or doing the same repetitive task and not really interacting with anyone else. These avatars turned out to be just like those workers in China making money off of virtual gold. For them, cutting down trees became a sort of job – a way for them to make a meager living in the real world. And I thought that I was addicted to the game? There are people out there that were far more addicted to the game than I was, and they were willing to spend the real money to level up and gain experience with little effort.
(image from http://www.thecandyrace.com/)
It was about a year ago when I saw a brand new virtual economy come into existence. This was an economy fueled by an addiction to candy. Candy Crush soared in popularity and became a game that I think everyone has played at least once. For some reason, people were paying real money in order to skip levels, unlock cheats, and gain experience. It became a competition for who could get the highest score at reach the highest level of the game. What really amazed me was the fact that this real money was not helping them in their real life at all; it was all going to the pockets of the big multibillion-dollar media corporations. In my mind, Candy Crush formed an economy where one person gained everything and everyone else received nothing in return for their efforts. That is why I never played Candy Crush in the first place, I did not want to lose my money for no good reason.
(image from http://memecrunch.com/)
There are a lot of games copying Candy Crush’s economic structure, such as Solitaire Blitz and Papa Pear Saga. These games think that there are a lot of people out there who will fall for their tricks. I hope that, as gamers, we will be able to see that an economy, that only supports the rich and powerful, is not one we want to continue to let grow and foster. Sadly, though, that type of economy is one we have in the United States right now. Perhaps our games are starting to mirror the reality of the world that we live in, and we cannot stop that from happening? I hope not.