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Julian Dibbell

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Invisible Labor, Invisible Play: Online Gold Farming And The Boundary Between Jobs And Games, Julian Dibbell Apr 2015

Invisible Labor, Invisible Play: Online Gold Farming And The Boundary Between Jobs And Games, Julian Dibbell

Julian Dibbell

When does work become play, and play work? Courts have considered the question in a variety of economic contexts, from student athletes seeking recognition as employees to professional blackjack players seeking to be treated by casinos just like casual players. Here I apply the question to a relatively novel context: that of online gold farming, a gray-market industry in which wage-earning workers, largely based in China, are paid to play online fantasy games (MMOs) that reward them with virtual items their employers sell for profit to the same games’ casual players. Gold farming is clearly a job (and under the ...