Came across two articles on New York Times (free registration req’d.) about the phenomenon of “game farms”. These are cottage institutions in China where gamers are paid to play games like World of Warcraft and Lineage, and advanced to a stage where they would sell off their high-level characters or, equipment and “gold” that they have accumulated in the game. And apparently there are hundreds of these farms all across China (side note: are there any in India? India has similarly cheap labour and a sizable population who are tech-inclined).
Of course, impatience reigns. And that’s where the farmers come in. Don’t actually want to work your way up to Level 60? Get a farmer’s leveling service to do it for you. Just pay a couple of hundred dollars or more, depending on how many levels you want to skip, wait a week or two, and, voila!, your character is now at ‘max level.’ Don’t want to scrounge and scrape for weeks to buy that powerful Krol Blade or Belt of the Archmage that’s selling for 500 gold pieces at the in-game auction house? Pay a farmer like Hfasdlf [screen-nick] 40 bucks and hook yourself up.
For many online gamers, the point is no longer simply to play. Instead they hunt for the fanciest sword or the most potent charm, or seek a shortcut to the thrill of sparring at the highest level. And all of that is available – for a price.
Of course – time is money. But just as buying a sports car does not make you a great driver, buying a powerful game character does not mean you know how to use one effectively or to get the most satisfaction out of using one.
Personally I’d go for the long route because sometimes, it’s the journey and not the destination that matters. If playing a game feels like work, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing at all.