“Hacker army” is a term we'd expect to hear from an explosion-packed Hollywood crime caper, but here we are watching real people spout phrases that are just asking for a cheesy one-liner to wash them down. That, however, is only the tip of the increasingly silly sounding iceberg. The South Korean government, you see, is claiming that said “army” helps keep its not-so-nice neighbor to the north from gobbling up all its funds by farming a little gold here and there. By which we mean, you know, six million dollars' worth.
Earlier this week, we (along with every other tech/gaming site on the Internet) reported that the Chinese government had put the kibosh on gold farming once and for all – something that, to many, sounded like a dream come true. Well wake up, because reality has decided to toss a cold bucket of water on your spam-free fantasy land. Richard Heeks of the University of Manchester explained:
“This is a government restriction on the use of the quasi-Paypal-like currencies (mainly QQ coins) that are used extensively in China to pay for virtual game stuff. As announced they can now only be used to pay for virtual stuff, and you can’t buy real things with them as game companies were allowing to happen, nor can you gamble.”
“This therefore is not about what gold farming clients do: use real money to buy these virtual currencies; it’s the mirror image. And it’s not about the major trade in gold farming such as World of Warcraft, which relates to other types of virtual currency.”
So there you have it. Rumors of gold farming’s death were greatly exaggerated. Shame, too because BUY GOLD BUY GOLD BUY GOLD AT WWW.AREYOUBUYINGGOLDYET.COM, YOUR SOURCE FOR GOLD THAT YOU CAN BUY.
It’s the end of an era. Gold farming -– the oh-so-reviled practice that even tops Communism and depressing thoughts about Guns N’ Roses on some people’s lists of “Things Immediately Associated with China” -– has been dealt a potentially fatal blow.
As of June 29, trading virtual currency for real goods or services is illegal in China. In other words, closing your eyes and chucking a bit of real-life coin into games like WoW won’t land you in a Scrooge McDuck-esque pool of in-game gold; it’ll land you in prison.
The Chinese government justified the ban saying that, by drawing this line between real and virtual currency, it hopes to crack down on “gambling and other illegal online activities.” It is important to note, however, that in-game gear apparently isn’t considered currency, so corralling and selling virtual items to those willing to spend hard-earned cash on a videogame (yet not willing to play said videogame) may still be legal.
A 2008 study conducted by Richard Heeks at Manchester University found that 80% to 85% of gold farmers are located in China. Obviously, then, this ban is a pretty huge deal. Granted, we’re talking about the guys and gals who managed to -– in the face of pressure from game companies -- continue peddling their services by spelling out ads through rows upon rows of meticulously organized in-game corpses, so we doubt China’s gold farming population will go down without a fight.