hurrengoa
contemporary goldfarmers    The plot is a simple one. Grab a bunch of videogame players, stick ‘em in a room and make them play for hours, days, weeks... The objective: to get the weapons, secrets, life, advantages, rewards and all the other tasty titbits and items of value offered by the videogame. What for? To sell them all to players from rich countries in the west. The most surprising thing about the plot is that instead of finding the film filed under science fiction, you’d find it in the documentary section. It would be a documentary on a new industry growing in the shadow of the new century.

These videogame gold-farmers who work in pretty shoddy pads are to be found in the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and, above all, in China. The players spend weeks, up to months in some cases, nailed to the screen as the protagonists of games like World of Witchcraft. The first step is to interiorise the mechanics of the game. Endless repetition of the learned mechanics of the games then enables the players to find the items of value hidden within. It is estimated that over 100,000 people work in these "gold shacks". That’s about 4% of all online players in China. They play form 12 to 18 hours a day and even if they change houses, they are always paid a wage in the region of $150. That’s noticeably higher than the average Chinese wage.

The "virtual gold" discovered by these players is then sold over the net. Players from western countries buy it on the web. In the beginning, auction houses like E-bay had no problems with these sales. Pressure from different sources (videogame manufacturers, different government tax departments...) over the last few years, however, has caused the big online auctioneers to ban this type of transaction. Nevertheless, it is, as everybody knows, impossible to totally eradicate anything from the net and western players can still find the muchvalued "eastern gold".