Virtual economy is on the up

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Virtual economy is on the up

Sweatshops are far more fun than they used to be – multiplayer online games have given rise to an ever-growing virtual economy.

China is home to tens of thousands of gaming sweatshops where people are hired to play games such as the infamous WoW for 10-12 hours a day in order to produce virtual assets which are exported all over the world.

These gold-miners aim to get success to the limit of dealing with government officials, brokers, world-wide customers and even a body of employees.

Although this may seem a strange occupation to some, people actually say that their home feels a lot safer with the emergence of gold farms, as there are less unemployed young people wondering around with nothing to do.

There is the other end of the spectrum however - due to the fierce competition emerging from this type of employment some gold mines collapse, leaving employees with next to no money and an uncontrollable addiction to gaming.

These details are widely known, yet the world of virtual gold mining is still a mysterious and controversial business - while some don’t mind buying the gold as a way to maximise their gaming experience, some are completely against this idea as they believe it should be a level playing field.

This, along with the poverty-stricken game addiction is leading games companies to crack down on the practice, although thus far they have been unsuccessful.

Researchers for Manchester University, who conducted a study into this problem, say the industry currently employs around 400,000 young people who earn on average $170 per month.

The report's authors admit that unfortunately an industry which connects “cash-rich time-poor” players with those willing to slog long working hours for next to no reward is likely to keep on growing. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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