Sunday, February 06, 2005

Science Fact and Fiction

Science Fiction bleeding over into fact is nothing new to aficionados of the craft. From Jules Verne to prophetic stories about the Atom Bomb in Astounding (Cleve Cartmill's Deadline), science has picked up on memes propagated in fiction. An instance of this came recently when Cory Doctorow's short story from last year, Anda's Game(my review), found resurgence in the news with reports on courtroom fallout of events similar to those in the short story.

What happens in Norrath doesn't always stay in Norrath, however. Virtual goods now appear for sale in the real world, on eBay. Exchange rates for game currency and U.S. dollars are posted on sites like IGE. An island in one virtual world recently sold for $30,000!

That kind of money attracts attention. Digital sweatshops, businesses where Third World laborers play online games 24/7 in order to create virtual goods that can be sold for cash, are also on the rise. One such business, Blacksnow Interactive, actually sued a virtual world's creator in 2002 for attempting to crack down on the practice. The first of its kind to center on virtual goods, the case was eventually dropped.


The $30,000 virtual island was in Project Entropia, btw.
Project Entropia is a massive virtual universe with a real cash economy.

Together with people from all over the globe you experience adventure, you form societies, and you are a part in the creation of a brand new world.

While on the planet Calypso you use the PED currency to invest in your personal development. The assets you acquire can be exchanged back into real world funds.

Project Entropia is available around the clock for decades to come. The virtual universe has been developed since 1995 and every month new exciting content is added.

You can also deposit real money into the PED currency. Something like a virtual bank - wonder if they have the legal right for this.

/. discussion underway - some highlights:

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I honestly think it's sickening to imagine people willing to spend this much money on something that isn't real. That's just my opinion though.

Sorry? The value of the money spent isn't real, either.

People treating imaginary stuff as if it were "real" is a normal thing. Actually, our entire society is based on the fact that people do that.

# Consider these simple examples just to get you started: Laws
# Borders
# The concept of "owning" things

I can very well imagine a number of reasons why it can be considered sickening to trade everquest characters for that much money. For example you might argue that it is decadent. But the fact that everquest characters are not "real" is nothing special.
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You honestly don't know what the fuck you're talking about, do you?

These guys pay people in korea and china in sweatshop conditions to do nothing but 'farm' money and items from online games. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that while they are doing this to make a profit they are:

A) Ruining the in-game economies for the players who play for fun.

B) Selling intellectual property that does not belong to them.

C) Hogging resources and areas and depriving real customers of what they paid for.

Most MMO's these days are coming with EULAs that state that it is against the terms of service to sell any ingame items or accounts. I neither buy accounts or ingame goods/money, I believe that these people are breaking the TOS of these games. Accounts should be transferrable, in my opinion, because they're what you pay for when you buy the game. Having said that, when you play the games, you agreed to the terms and conditions expressed by the owners of the games.

The sweatshop farmers work 8-10 hours doing nothing but killing mosters to collect their gold. While others in comments might say they're getting paid to play the game, they most certainly are not. If you want to see what these guys can do to a game, go and look at Lineage 2. Sweatshop farmers ruined that game. And they will ruin any other game where this type of behavior is not combatted pro-actively.

And as to how they ruin a game it goes something like this:

1. Sweat shops farm the gold, stopping players from legitimately adventuring in the areas they occupy.

2. They sell humongous amounts of gold on eBay and websites like IGN.

3. All the gold that is being farmed and not put back into gold sinks starts inflating the cost of items.

4. Something that once cost 1 gold, now sells for 100 because people have too much money.

5. New players can not afford the items they need, forcing them out of the game.

These poor little koreans who need to earn their 3 dollars a week are ruining games people PAY TO PLAY. I find it unacceptable. And so do the other players of MMOs. Whether some third world pissants get paid where they otherwise wouldn't is immaterial.
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