Friday, August 22, 2008

BBC NEWS | Technology | Poor earning virtual gaming gold

Nearly 500,000 people in developing nations earn a wage making virtual goods in online games to sell to players, a study has found.

Research by Manchester University shows that the practice, known as gold-farming, is growing rapidly.

The industry, about 80% based in China, employs about 400,000 people who earn £77 per month on average.

Big industry

Professor Richard Heeks, head of the development informatics group at Manchester who wrote the report, said gold farming had become a significant economic sector in many developing nations.

"I initially became aware of gold farming through my own games-playing but assumed it was just a cottage industry," said Professor Richard Heeks from the University of Manchester who wrote the report.

"In a way that is still true. It's just that instead of a few dozen cottages, there turn out to be tens of thousands."

In many online games virtual cash remains rare and many people turn to suppliers such as gold farmers to get money to outfit avatars with better gear, weapons or a mount.

Some gold-farming operations offer other services such as "power levelling" in which they assume control of a player's character and turn it into a high-powered hero far faster than the original owner could manage themselves.

Prof Heeks said very accurate figures for the size of the gold farming sector were hard to come by but his work suggested that in 2008 it employs 400,000 people who earn an average of $145 (£77) per month creating a global market worth about $500m.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Poor earning virtual gaming gold
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