Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sweatshops Go Virtual

by J. La Mont (writer), , September 27, 2006


No matter how things change there will always be the rich and those that are exploited in their attempts to improve their lot in life.

Long ago third world workers would spend hours toiling away on soccer balls and tennis shoes to fill the shelves of far away stores. How quaint. Now Chinese workers spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, mining gold, not inside some mountain but instead on a computer in virtual worlds known as massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). The virtual gold is then sold to the highest bidder as part of the online underground economy and according to experts business is booming.

MMOGs such as Everquest, Runescape or Worlds of Warcraft are some of the most profitable Net businesses out there with over 13 million users paying subscription fees. In these worlds people battle monsters and go on quests to gain experience and wealth. This takes time. Lots of time. Longer than hypothetically going to Ebay and just buying the gold, hence the Chinese sweatshop. A quick search on Ebay revealed 800+ listings alone for Warcraft from $20 for gold to several hundred dollars for fully developed characters.

According to Professor Edward Castronova, Associate Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington, these sweatshops are appearing from Mexico to Romania to China because, "Working in a room made safe for computers is going to offer better conditions than working behind a plough in some field."

In the end, no matter how much things supposedly change with the advancement of technology there will always be the rich with money to spend and poor people happy to be exploited for the chance to live a better life.

About the Writer

J. La Mont is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Sweatshops Go Virtual

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By Ariel on September 27, 2006 at 07:26 am
So, wait? You can actually dig for gold in this video games? What's the value of this gold? Is it just like score points and you're like "ahah I have more gold than you!" to your friends? or can you buy super dupper weapons with in the game?
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By J. La Mont on September 27, 2006 at 10:21 am
You can dig for gold, forge steel, shear sheep or kill an ogre. This gives you raw material to sell or use for making new supplies. Additionally the actions give you experience points so you're a better miner or a better weaver. Also like the non-pixilated world the more bling you have the more bragging rights. So in short, Yes, Yes & Yes.
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By Annonymous on September 27, 2006 at 10:27 am
And people actually pay real money to have fake money? :)
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By Noa on September 27, 2006 at 03:44 pm
wow, what an awesome article!
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By TonyBerkman on October 22, 2011 at 01:28 am

This article is perhaps more relevant today than when you wrote it. Your conclusion appears to be correct unless we somehow as humans reach a highel level of collective conscioussness.

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