(Via Terra Nova). There has been a lot of talk in online gaming circles about the gold farming phenomenon. Gold farming is the use of “virtual sweatshops” in which gamers from developing countries spend hours earning in-game currency, rare items or virtual property in order to sell it in exchange of real life currency. At first it was believed that gold farming was a myth, but it has become a fact, with sites like IGC4X selling gold for various games. Ebay is also full of people selling in-game goods.
The article in Terranova has an interesting link about the people who do gold farming. It is interesting to read that some of the people employed in virtual sweatshops do not find their occupation that bad. One could argue that they are being paid to play, but that is besides the point.
What about the law? Many games forbid gold farming in their user agreements, and some may even claim ownership over the intellectual property created in game. One could argue that this is just another example of free market economy. If a gamer wants something bad enough, he/she will pay real money for it. Who loses in the transaction? Some other games have recognized the value and sell upgrades within the game, or even high-level characters, such as the case of Ultima Online.