… and we’re back.

I don’t like to take vacations from gaming. First of all, when I get back, everyone’s raced ahead of me in gear, quests and money. Unless you have bragging rights, where’s the fun in the MMO grind? (exactly.)

Secondly, there’s this running bit in my guild whenever anyone is gone for a few days, we accuse them of perpetrating any and all crimes that were in the news during their absence. After all, if they were innocent, they would have had time to log on each night.

It’s the whole internet anonymity thing. You could have a felon in your guild and you’d be none the wiser unless he (or she!) was arrested during a guild raid. Even then, no one would believe there had been an arrest — everyone would just assume the idiot wanted to get to bed or duck a raid and was making that arrest shit up.

Which brings me to this well spun yarn that’s been making the rounds in the reblogging world: and CGW’s “Wage Slaves”. Since everyone and his hardcore grandma have discussed and linked the thing, you’ve probably already read it. But if not, go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

If you’ve played a few MMOGs, I’ll bet you’d have a much different reaction to that story then someone who’s playing their first MMOG … the first timer being a bit more naive and not so worldly in the ways of the internet liar. Just a guess. Because I know that anyone who’s been around the underbelly of gaming society for more than a year or two ain’t so easily fooled.

Sure, once upon a time, I was so easily fooled. And I’ll allow that maybe my internet spidey senses are tingling because there’s some problems with the article’s construction.

At any rate, reading with the jaundiced eye … the first “wage slave” we’re introduced to is only known to us (and to the author) by his nick, “Sack”. Well shit, it’s going to be hard to confirm anything he tells us if we only know his fake name. Maybe he’s telling the truth, maybe not. Hopefully we’ll get to meet someone who gives a real name that can verify sad Sack’s story. (No, we don’t, but I was trying to build suspense.)

Never mind Sack, because in the second paragraph, we meet other people with REAL names (yay!) and a bunch of figures are quoted for how huge the MMO resale market has become … according to some guy with UOTreasures. How the fuck would he know, we have no idea. Since there’s no mention of UOTreasures hauling out a tax return (heh) or an annual report to back up the $500 million figure, I’m left wondering if these are pulled-out-of-thine-ass figures or if someone (anyone?) can verify or partially verify same. How about a QuickBooks printout? Did they at least doctor up one of those to cover their own estimated take?

Anyways, back to Sack, who works in Lineage II (who cares) for 12 hours every day (so he types … or says? was all this at least on the fucking telephone?). Ya, his life is hell (so he types … or says). And there’s two photos of dark-haired people sitting in front of numerous monitors that may or may not be a virtual sweatshop. (Who took the photos? Sack? Since there’s no copyright notice on the photos, can I steal them and claim it’s my Vietnamese farm?)

I’ll tell you one thing, if I’m going to run a virtual sweatshop, I’m not going to have one slave per machine. Each slave can watch at least three or four machines simultaneously. I wouldn’t be running a charity, this is a virtual business, goddamit.

Never mind Lineage II, now we have a World of Warcraft example with a hunter and a cleric. Cleric autoheals, hunter kills, they load up on gold, rinse, repeat. Ok. That I can see. Except, what the fuck does WoW have to do with Sack or Lineage II? I guess that was thrown in there since WoW is the game of the moment and Lineage II, in the Western World, well … isn’t.

Anyhow, thanks for the Warcraft tips. (I guess. WTF.)

We’re done with sad Sack — we meet Smooth Criminal, typical internet bigshot (*cough*) who paid cash for his house by farming Star Wars: Galaxies. Great! Let’s see the bank statements then, because apparently there aren’t any supporting tax returns.

Well damn, we won’t get to see bank statements, or the house, or hear the doorbell that plays Star Wars, but we do see another photo of dark-haired people in front of computer monitors. Forget the bank statements, Smooth isn’t sharing. But he does go into some detail about his 30% stake in an Indonesian farm and about the Chinese farm he recently purchased.

As I’m sure you know already, dealing with foreign governments, especially governments without a free market system, is mighty tricky. That shit practically HAS to be handled face to face. You can’t just call up China and buy equipment and rent warehouses and set up shop. (What can you be thinking?!?!) So … who was his contact in Indonesia? China? Any bank statements that can back that up? (Of course not.)

Blah blah, some stuff about IGE, which as far as I’m concerned, is the closest we’re going to get to verifiable figures with this secondary MMOG bullshit.

CONFIRMED, they’ve been tossing around some big dollars to clamp down on the competition, future competition, and media outlets. If you’re spending big money, you’re either making or borrowing big money, nuff said. How big of money? That’s another question entirely that could be answered easily enough with bank statements, tax returns or annual reports. Nobody’s sharing, though. (Of course.)

The whole article wraps up with some more fake names, and one American, “HeRog”, who makes so much in the secondary market, he quit his six-figure job to run his farm fulltime. (Bank statement? Income tax return?) O ya, there’s a story from Adrian2001 about how he tests Romanian goat herders with money left lying about. Cuz that’s fair. What an asshole.

Listen. This entire yarn could be 100% true. The figures may not be inflated or exaggerated; the story about the poor goat herder who’d rather starve than slip some unattended cash in his pocket could be true; the house that SWG bought could exist. I just don’t understand why easily verifiable assertions weren’t checked independently.

On the internet, anyone can type anything they choose and there’s a dozen idiots willing to believe him/her/it. Truly, this article is an entertaining read — I had quite a chuckle. But, when docudrama is paraded around like it’s hard-hitting investigative journalism, then I have a problem with it.

I have no doubts that the secondary MMOG market is big and getting bigger. Fuck, Sony wouldn’t be getting their hands dirty if it wasn’t. I do have doubts that it’s as big, as easy, as widespread, as nefarious, as exploitive as these anonymous people describe. Where’s the proof? Has anyone anywhere ever independently verified any of the numbers?

And as far as the Warcraft allusions go, I have a finger on the pulse of that farm gig … as in, I have run into farmers cycling the chests and the craft component spawns, et al. I’ve even run into a few trying to snake their way into raids. For the most part, they have been identified by the community and their allowed level of participation has been severely restricted. They ninja, their shit is overpriced and they can barely speak the language or follow instructions, ergo, no groups for them.

It’s a living, I’m sure, it’s just not a very good one … for the farmer OR his employer.

Hey, no one loves a good anecdote more than me. I just think anecdotes shouldn’t masquerade as nonfiction without bank statements, tax returns or annual reports.

9 thoughts on “DocuDRAMA

  1. Pretty much sums up what i thought when I read that article. I kept waiting for it to go somewhere and it ended up right where I expected it, an interesting topic mixed with the fluff that the game press is used to tapping out.

  2. on my server “Lothar” the chinese farmers are a REALY big problem. They’ve pretty much blown the hell out of the market and value of gold. It’s gotten REALY fukin bad. I think it’s become that bad not only because of the chinese farmers, but because it seems the majority of them are ALL aliance characters and only selling to the Aliance market and not horde so they’re inflating one faction while the other has an entirely different economy.

  3. *rang rang*

    just kidding. great post, i agree totally. if the ny times has issues with valid articles…

  4. Well, I wouldn’t claim farmer in WoW are more balanced to one faction or the other other. That’s just nonsense. I’ve seen both. In fact, a group of guildies went up to Azshara a few weekends ago to mess with the farmers.

    This is what we saw. I caught one rogue and messed him up. Then, there was a mage and a druid (I think). When I rode over a hill to meet the guildies and then right back, they had were logging. The guildies said they were doing that all night. They would log out of those characters and log into another set that were somewhere else far away from us so we’d ride around to find that other set.

    Also what I’ve seen is farmers who would in groups of opposite faction. You can spot those because let’s be serious, when is the last time you saw two groups of opposing factions in the same area and they didn’t try to kill each other. Correct! Never (I’m on a PVP Server). These groups work to counter the effect that my guildies were bringing to them. Basically, the Horde set will fight against us (alliance) while the Alliance farm. And if a group of Horde were to pass by, the Alliance set attacks the Horde in the area. This allows them to protect their precious farm areas by making sure they don’t have to compete with same faction groups while allowing them the ability to fend of opposite faction groups while they still get farming done.

    I think this fits well with Foton’s 4 slaves to 1 machine idea. 🙂

    Also, people wonder how farming hurts the game besides the usual economy argument. A few of our newer guildies, who are also new to MMO, were asking who had high fishing skill because they needed a certain fish for a potion. I think I was the highest but I had quit fishing a long time ago. Reason? Because Blizzard gimped fishing. Now, I don’t agree about the way Blizzard did it, but the fact that they HAD to do ANYTHING with it was due to farmers running fishing bots. Personally, I hope they fix fishing to make it worthwhile again some day. Maybe implement an anti-bot code like FFXI did to help curb botting.

  5. hmmm I am the one quoted in the article. If you would like to see my paypal statements I am more than willing to show them to you. The figures he says in the article are off but there is a lot of money trading hands every day. I sell 2 to 4 billion L2 adena every day.

    Anyway you have my email, let me know if you want to talk…. And for the record, Sack is my employee! lol


  6. Cool deal. I’ll be in touch.

    And FCS, has your CPA taught you nothing? Sack is a consultant, not an employee.

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