Thursday, July 07, 2005

Asians stuck in feudalism work as serfs....inside computer games

"Sack" is the only name I'm given for the person I'm supposed to contact. He lives in the Fujian province of China, but his place of business is online—he plays Lineage II. He's paid about 56 cents an hour to work in a videogame "sweatshop."

If the term sounds familiar, it's because of Lee Caldwell. The notorious MMORPG scripter got busted four years ago for admitting that his company, BlackSnow, hired workers in Tijuana to earn gold by "farming" in Ultima Online. Caldwell sold that in-game tender online for a handsome real-world profit while only paying his employees pennies on the dollar. Since 1998, the second-party market for MMORPG loot has steadily grown. Last year alone, this newfound industry grossed roughly $500 million, according to Bob Kiblinger of UOTreasures. CGW decided it was high time to go underground and find some of the key players who are going after a piece of the action.
(From sweatshops to stateside corporations,
some people are profiting off of MMO gold.
by James Lee)

MMO = Massively Multiplayer Online, or something like that. They're big virtual worlds. Funny, the virtual world is like the real world for parts of the world stuck back in feudalism.

It should be noted:
For all the so-called virtual sweatshops discovered, a lot of these young men and boys don't mind their jobs, and they aren't exactly working in sweatshop conditions. There's a world of difference between making sneakers and watching bots fight all day. However, they are underpaid, or as Smooth Criminal puts it, "They get paid dirt. But dirt is good where they live."

There is always some Marxist around who thinks that the solution to exploitation is to make everyone unemployed through some totalitarian system. Ironically, Marx himself argued that capitalism is a necessary step between feudalism and communism.

In related news: New Chinese clinic aims to combat online gaming addiction (GameIndustryBiz)

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