Where Does the World of Warcraft Gold Come From?

As of March, 2011, there were more than 11.4 million subscribers to the popular World of Warcraft game. Every one of those people need in-game gold in order to buy gear, enchant and gem said gear, buy potions or food and repair things after being killed by enemies. Most people get that gold into their hot little hands the old-fashioned way: they earn it. Grinding through quests, dailies and heroics is time-consuming, though. Some players simply don’t want to have to work that hard in order to reap the benefits having a lot of gold in your bags can bring. Instead, they choose to buy their in-game money with real money… a practice that is frowned upon by Blizzard Entertainment and most hard-core players.

There are websites out there which will sell you mass quantities of gold in exchange for your hard-earned cash. Many of them offer as much as 20,000 gold at a time, with delivery promised within the hour. The question, though, is where that gold comes from. It’s a well-known fact that gold farmers suck. I’ve heard horror stories from players trying to complete quests who cannot because a gold farmer is busy camping an area in order to kill repeatedly for the money drops. Who the heck is behind this farming?

A recent article in The Guardian ran a story on Wednesday about this topic, and the post shocked many. Chinese citizen Liu Dali was a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp. During the day, he was forced to do hard labor outdoors. At night, he was forced to kill demons, animals and even other players… farming WoW gold. He claims to be only one of many prisoners who were literally forced to play games like WoW for many hours every day, earning gold to later be sold for real money.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off. If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

It is believed that about 80% of the people who farm for gold in games like WoW are located in China, and that there are more than 100,000 people doing so. With such a lucrative business venture, it’s hard to tell how many of those people are being forced to play, and how many are doing so for very VERY low wages while their bosses rake in the profits.

I do NOT want to know if you are a WoW (or other game) player who buys in-game gold or credits. That’s just something we don’t need to share, y’all. I’m not putting anyone down or judging them. Your way of playing is your own. However, I know that if I were playing one of those games, I’d find it much more satisfying to earn my bankroll the hard way.

How to Pay it Forward

When was the last time someone did a small favor for you? How did you repay their kindness? There are many ways to bestow a benediction and not all of them will cost money. Have you ever taken the time to pay it forward online? Did you even realize that this is something you should be doing each and every day?

Doing something nice for others is a basic human rule we should all live by. Sharing a friend’s site link with your network to help bring recognition to your comrade is one way to give back. Sharing invite codes with people who may not otherwise have access to them (instead of giving them out to the usual early-adopter crowd) is another friendly gesture that goes a long way. You most likely got where you are with the help of your followers, so why aren’t you giving the same hand up to others?

Gamers can play it forward, as well. A poster on the site will offer a game at no cost and a thread commenter is chosen to receive the gift. That person plays the game. If they like it, they should purchase another copy to give someone else. If they don’t end up liking the game, they are encouraged to gift a different game to a random player using the same site.

Speaking of gaming, my assistant Kat is a casual World of Warcraft player. Last weekend, her Mage was hanging out in one of the main cities while Kat was busy talking to her fellow guild members. Some random player sent our Kitty an in-game whisper, asking if she would please create a portal for them to another city. Most players do things like this for others in exchange for a tip of gold. Kat, however, always refuses the tip. Instead, she tells the character to pay it forward to another player in some way. Her talking about this to me is what gave me the idea to write this post. I know there are hundreds – if not thousands – of small ways we can help others while we are busy living our lives online.

You don’t have to be a gamer in order to participate, of course. You can be a Twitter addict or Facebook junkie. Why not give something to your friends’ Farmville crops without expecting (or begging for) items in return? Perhaps you know someone new to Twitter whom you believe has good things to say. You could always throw out a dreaded #FF Tweet to help them make new connections.

My challenge to you is simple: think back to the times someone has helped you for no reason other than to be kind. Now, go forth into the online world and pay it forward. I’d love to hear the ways you accomplish this task, so be sure to leave a comment here and share your experience with the community.

World of Warcraft on Kinect


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The Kinect has been “hacked” once again, but this time the stakes are more exciting than before. The new Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST) technology works with the Kinect to allow a gamer to control World of Warcraft completely with body movement alone.

FAAST can be used to control video games – such as World of Warcraft. Since these games would not normally support motion sensing devices, FAAST emulates keyboard input triggered by body posture and specific gestures. These controls can be dynamically configured for different applications and games. FAAST allows for basic commands and movement to be done via body motion and sound in the game.

Who says that gaming is bad for your physical health? By getting up and getting your body into the entire game, you’re taking the experience – and your health – to a whole new level.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Smashes Records

The newest expansion for World of Warcraft – Cataclysm – launched just a week ago to much fanfare. Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind the popular game, released day one sales figures today. Within 24 hours of launch, the game had sold an unprecedented 3.3 million copies… smashing records left and right. This means more than one out of four WoW subscribers bought the expansion within 24 hours of its release – making it the fastest-selling computer game of all time.

According to Mashable, “the iPhone 4 saw a paltry 1.5 million units moved in its first 24 hours; and only 2 million songs by the Beatles were sold during the entire week of that band’s iTunes premiere.” That shows you quite an interesting twist on just how many copies of the game sold on the first day.

Does these numbers really surprise you? The cinematic trailer – embedded above – received more than a million views during its first full day on YouTube. I’m told that the original teaser video for the expansion was released during BlizzCon 2009 – which fell during Gnomedex 2009. I later found out that more than half of our attendees sent their laptops and notebooks to the Blizz site to check out the expansion news while listening to speakers on our stage! This game is that popular amongst people of all ages, races and geek-levels. The fans are rabid – and rightfully so, I suppose.

I’ve never been a fan, you already know that. My assistant Kat is, though, and is in love with the expansion. She reports she’s only played about three total hours so far. She restricts herself to logging in on weekends if she doesn’t have other things (family stuff) going on. She well knows how easy it is to get sucked into game-playing when you’re supposed to be working!

Are you a WoW player? What do you think about Cataclysm thus far?

Are You Ready for the Cataclysm?

All of our gamer friends know that World of Warcraft Cataclysm release date is getting closer. Things around Azeroth will never be the same, but most players are excited about that prospect. It’s always good when a game shakes things up and makes them almost new again. It keeps players interested, right? There are lots of cool things going on to help promote the launch, and we’re happy to be taking part in a giveaway right here in our community.

Our friend Rubin and his team over at DiabloSpot have graciously donated some seriously cool items to give away. We will be doing two random giveaways – one begins today and the other will be next week! You have two chances to win, simply by sending a tweet. Your tweet must include @Chrispirillo, @diablospot and #Cataclysm in it. By sending that tweet between now and midnight on Friday night (October 29th), you are automatically in the running for this week’s prize.

This week, four lucky people will win Limited Edition Warcraft Trading Card Game Cards… each of which are still sealed in foil and were signed by the artist! At this point in time, there is no monetary value placed on them. I would definitely hold on to these if you win one… they could be worth some decent bank one day.

Are you looking forward to the Cataclysm? What do you feel will be the best change to the game? If you missed out on BlizzCon, be sure to check out the information that Rubin and the gang put up over on DiabloSpot – and don’t miss out on all the talk of Diablo 3.