“I realized that exporting virtual items through the Internet is the same as transmitting Chinese labor to America.”
So says Tietou, the owner of a Chinese virtual item factory, also known as a gold farming factory or gaming workshop, in a fascinating video clip from a documentary film on Chinese virtual item production by Ge Jin, a Ph.D student in at UCSD.
In the extensive comments on Terra Nova, Ge says:One farm owner told me that there are more than 2000 gold farms in
China and more than 200,000 gold farmers. I find it possible because in
the forum of 1t1t.com (a large Chinese portal for gamers) I saw
recruitment ads for gold farmers from gold farms all over China.
The background of gold farmers varies too. Some are young peasants who
came to cities with nothing (gold farms are in cities because they need
Internet infrastructure), but some are urban unemployed youth from
average family. The latter kind were often game fans before they found
the job, and they would be living off their parents and paying to play
games in Internet cafes. I speculate most gold farmers would be doing
manual labor or stay unemployed without this job. At least, every
farmer I interviewed loves the job and they are very uncertain what
they can do if they lose this job.