Gold Farmers

We remember hunting all over Hyrule for that piece of the Triforce, but the Legend of Zelda was still just a game. Today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games, like World of Warcraft, inspire new levels of obsession. Die-hard players-many of them adults, with jobs (for now)-are willing to pay real dollars for virtual swords or virtual amulets or whatever will help them attain virtual glory.To meet this demand, a cottage industry has sprung up in China and elsewhere. Wage-workers put in sweatshop hours, often living and working in a single compound, doing the game's repetitive grunt work and selling their virtual currency for dollars-usually to American players.[youtube] "gold farmers" live as second-class citizens within the games, don't get much respect in real life either, and rely on a volatile virtual economy for their livelihood. It isn't easy work, and it certainly doesn't resemble the video game playing we're familiar with. This new, morally ambiguous work is the subject of Gold Farmers, a documentary by University of California, San Diego Ph.D. student Ge Jin.More about Gold Farmers and an interview with Ge Jin here.