Ironic, isn't it?
I decided to use AdSense to put a few ads on my page. I should have guessed that this being a Wow blog, the ads that would be placed would be...... yup, gold sellers and powerlevelers.
I AM NOT ADVOCATING YOU CLICK THOSE LINKS.
Being new to this, I haven't yet figured out if/how I can get rid of the gold selling ads and get Google to post, say, legal gold making guides and/or things like web hosting or gaming peripherals, but I will work on that.
Anyway, seeing those ads on my page got me thinking about an age-old MMO topic; is selling in game stuff (currency, items, leveling, etc) for real money a good thing, or a bad thing?
It's certainly the 'party line' to say the gold sellers are the bad guys. Blizzard actively discourages it and has shut down gold selling accounts by the thousands. Gold sellers annoy us by clogging trade channels and even spamming us with tells to buy their products - something I personally invariably report.
So it's annoying, but is it a Bad Thing?
There are multiple arguments on both sides of this issue.
Bad: Turns gaming into 'work.' It leads to the exploitation of impoverished peoples. It encourages scammers and hackers. Leads to spam advertising in and out of game.
Good: Allows people to spend time doing what they want in game (raiding, etc) as opposed to grinding gold. Creates real life jobs, and the workers typically /shrug and say that its just a job.
I'm sure if I get comments on this there will be some emotional responses - every forum where it's discussed tends to devolve into hysteria. So let's see how it goes here, and if you have solid points on either side I'd love to hear them.
I'm going to come down on the side of..... Neither White nor Black. In my mind, the issue is Shades of Gray.
I think there are genuine problems with scammers/hackers (I've been hacked myself), and the working conditions of farmers should be addressed, but I don't think that necessarily means the selling of gold for real currency is bad - only that those conditions should be addressed. Many other games out there allow selling in game items for real currency under their TOS. The TOS could still root out in game annoyances like spammers, but allow gold selling online but out of game. For most of the 'bad' perspectives I see them as possibly either mistaken or something that can be addressed. The Guardian has a fairly recent article on gold farmers in China, and fairly recently China moved to try to stop it.
As far as it goes, I agree with many people who say 'it's a game - if you don't enjoy it, don't play it,' or, 'if it ever becomes work, it's time to quit.' I feel the same way. I've never bought gold or anything like it, and I never intend to. I've always found it easy enough to make all the gold I could ever need in the game.
But the costs of raiding are very steep and hardcore raiders can easily spend 1-2k gold a week on raiding costs, not including item enhancement from new gear. That's a lot of additional time spent farming for your raid stuffs - if you have the money and would rather not farm (or play the greedy goblin AH game) - what really is wrong with spending real money to avoid it? I have yet to hear a cogent argument against that.
So in conclusion I'd tend to believe that gold sellers are annoying at times, but I don't see them as evil. If they were better regulated, they may not only provide real jobs for impoverished regions, but also a real service for people willing and able to spend the money and allow them to spend their in-game time on what they enjoy the most.
AGAIN, DON'T CLICK the gold selling ads in my links. That was NOT my intention with this article - the appearance of the ads merely sparked my own thought process. I don't plan to write much more on this type of topic in the future. I plan to see if I can get rid of the ads; if I can't, well, they just become background noise I guess. /shrug