Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 46984
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2007/6/16-20 [Recreation/Computer/Games] UID:46984 Activity:high
6/16    article on chinese (gold) farmers --psb
        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/17/magazine/17lootfarmers-t.html
        \_ I never really understood why people pay real cash for loot in
           these games.  They don't take that long to hit the level cap and
           long before you're there you should have more cash than you know
           what to do with.  And really, isn't getting loot and leveling the
           whole point of these games?
           \_ Becuase some loot is mind numbingly boring to get, and the only
              'challenge' is putting in the time to acquire it.  Take the
              worst case -- epic flying mount, which once you have the level,
              the only requirement is 5000g.  You can 'farm' -- repeatedly
              killing stuff for gold, netting, say 50g an hour -- thats a
              100 hour investment.  Or you can just go buy the gold for real
              cash from one of these operations.    But many of the 'best
              stuff' is not buyable, you have to 'earn it' yourself in big
              raids.  But  much of the raid design requiers you to get potions
              and enchants to prepare for the raid, and THIS is stuff you can
              buy from others (including farming operations).  There are many
              who would prefer to raid rather than farm for materials to
              support their raiding.  The guild Nihilum, who were the first to
              complete some end-game boss raids, admitted to doing this, at
              one point.
              \_ Ok, I can see how that goes.  But it seems to me that rather
                 than pay someone to do the 'boring' parts of the game it
                 would be better to play a different game.  If all games have
                 parts that are (semi)mandatory but boring then maybe it would
                 be better if everyone just stopped playing these sorts of
                 games until developers respond.
                 \_ OK, you get on that WoW boycott and let us know how it
                    works for you.
                    \_ I bought my copy a month after it started.  I played for
                       about 5 nights and just stopped.  It was totally boring
                       and I didn't even get to the point of grinding anything.
                       \_ 5 days isn't far enough into the game to see any
                          of this.
                          \_ 5 days into the game was more than enough to see
                             that it was a boring waste of time and effort.  As
                             I said I didn't get the "opportunity" to grind
                             the game because it sucked too much to bother to
                             get that far.
                    \_ I don't know about pp, but my Wow boycott has been great
                       for me.  I save money, have more time, AND don't have to
                       grind.  I recommend it.
                       \_ Me too. I play other games still, so I'm not saving
                          that much time, but I get a much greater variety of
                          experiences. I can play Angband if I want to grind.
                          The social aspect of WoW isn't very interesting
                          and requires large chunks of time to maintain.
                          An MMO with more focus on player-driven world
                          economy and power would be more interesting for me.
                          Still hard to avoid the time sink effect in a
                          realtime game world.
                          \_ EVE onlnie has much of this.  The problem is it
                             is hard to find direction in their world.  There
                             is no clear path of quests and levelling to follow
                             and puts of a lot of people.  the "now, what do I
                             do ??" effect.
                             \_ Sounds like you are not tall enough for EVE.
                             \_ I have read about EVE and yeah it's the one
                                that seems closest however it is still based
                                on grinding for resources at heart. At least
                                your group can struggle for the most lucrative
                                places and stuff. Still too much work stuff.
                                In a single player game you can play someone
                                who is really special, as opposed to superhero
                                class 14881 instance 74941781, wait in line
                                to kill evil overlord #4281 for the 654819th
                                time.
                 \_ "The Grind" is a design feature of MMOs.  People enjoy
                    MMOs for the same reason they enjoy exercise -- there is
                    an endorphin release involved with delayed gratification.
                    People who bypass 'the grind' perhaps crave adrenaline
                    release instead.  http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/exercise.png
                      -- ilyas
                    \_ The Grind is an example of poor story design. A better
                       idea would be more single-player quests. Hard to tell if
                       this is a limitation of the system or the designers.
                       \_ 'The grind' has nothing to do with 'the story.'
                          Look at angband -- it's all grind, no story, and
                          people play it.  'The story' caters to people who view
                          video games like a book, 'the grind' caters to
                          people play it.  'The story' caters to people who
                          view video games like a book, 'the grind' caters to
                          people who view video games like exercise.  The grind
                          isn't really a flawed concept -- it fulfills a
                          need in certain sorts of players.  Are 'one-armed
                          bandits' in Vegas flawed?  You need to get away from
                          this "I don't like it -> it must be bad design" thing.
                          Actually angband reminded me of another
                          this "I don't like it -> it must be bad design"
                          thing. Actually angband reminded me of another
                          psychologically powerful feature of 'the grind' --
                          it relies on uncertain rewards, and so results in
                          gambling behavior where you gamble with your time
                          instead of your money.  Delayed gratification coupled
                          with uncertain rewards is powerfully addictive stuff.
                            -- ilyas
                          \_ If I understand you correctly, you're saying that
                             the Grind is like Minesweeper. That's cool, but
                             minesweeper is an opt-in activity, not one you
                             have to play N times before you're allowed to
                             play Freecell. If the Grind were option, if you
                             could level w/o Grinding, I'd buy your argument.
                             Since you generally cannot, I suggest to you that
                             the Grind is used in place of good story dev.
                             \_ There is no freecell, though.  The grind never
                                stops, you never get past it to get at some
                                other phase of the game.  If you don't like
                                the grind you shouldn't play games with grind
                                in it.  Perhaps what confuses you is that
                                leveling has two purposes in games -- it's
                                a tool to pace content consumption, and it's
                                (one of the) tools for grinding.  Sounds like
                                you are interested in content consumption,
                                and that's fine -- there are plenty of games
                                built on that.  But that doesn't imply there
                                is something wrong with the grind as a gameplay
                                feature.  A pure 'content consumption' game
                                would be something like Myst.  A pure 'grind'
                                game would be something like angband (or diablo
                                its derivative).  Both are fine games, they
                                just appeal to very different players. -- ilyas
                                \_ Well, those grind games do have some sort of
                                   content: new monsters, areas, and abilities.
                                   So the gameplay does change a bit over time.
                                   This stuff is fairly minor of course, but
                                   it keeps the grind feeling fresh over time.
                                   Diablo also has a few high quality movies
                                   to reward you. In the long run it is simple
                                   gambling for random items as you say.
                                   \_ The new monsters are just like the old
                                      monsters with more hit points and they
                                      hit back harder.  The new areas is just
                                      a bigger place to walk through, killing
                                      more play time.  New abilities can change
                                      game play but not if it is just "spell
                                      damage++".  I played several MMOs for
                                      years and just don't see the point
                                      anymore.
                                      \_ I don't see the point either, although
                                         I did enjoy Diablo where you could
                                         beat it in reasonable time. I was just
                                         pointing out that the different quests
                                         and such is content and takes writers
                                         and artists and such. I wasn't
                                         commenting on the value of it.
                                         \_ Most of this thread can be summed
                                            up by an exchange that occurred
                                            between me and a friend who really
                                            wanted me to get into Diablo:
                                Me: "Liked D, but thought it repetitive."
                                Him: (Ironically) "Ya think?"
                \_ The 'grind' in general is a means of keeping players *in*
                   the game, in that they have limited developer time to design
                   the 'end game stuff'  and once players have it, then what?
                   in a few days they get bored and quit.  These games are
                   subscription based, keeping them in the same game is how
                   the publisher gets money. Unlike a pay to buy the game model
                   where you want the players to burn through the game and get
                   a new one.   I don't really agree with the model here, but
                   its what they do.
                   \_ I suspect there will come a point where either someone
                      designs a game that isn't like that and kills the entire
                      current crop or enough people just give up on the MMORPG
                      thing that the genre slowly fades away.  I hope for the
                      former.
                      \_ I am taking bets that neither the former nor the
                         latter will ever happen. -- ilyas
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www.nytimes.com/2007/06/17/magazine/17lootfarmers-t.html
Article Tools Sponsored By By JULIAN DIBBELL Published: June 17, 2007 It was an hour before midnight, three hours into the night shift with nine more to go. At his workstation in a small, fluorescent-lighted office space in Nanjing, China, Li Qiwen sat shirtless and chain-smoking, gazing purposefully at the online computer game in front of him. The screen showed a lightly wooded mountain terrain, studded with castle ruins and grazing deer, in which warrior monks milled about. Li, or rather his staff-wielding wizard character, had been slaying the enemy monks since 8 pm, mouse-clicking on one corpse after another, each time gathering a few dozen virtual coins and maybe a magic weapon or two into an increasingly laden backpack. The Wizards of Warcraft Twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, with only two or three nights off per month, this is what Li does for a living. On this summer night in 2006, the game on his screen was, as always, World of Warcraft, an online fantasy title in which players, in the guise of self-created avatars night-elf wizards, warrior orcs and other Tolkienesque characters battle their way through the mythical realm of Azeroth, earning points for every monster slain and rising, over many months, from the games lowest level of death-dealing power to the highest (70). More than eight million people around the world play World of Warcraft approximately one in every thousand on the planet and whenever Li is logged on, thousands of other players are, too. They share the games vast, virtual world with him, converging in its towns to trade their loot or turning up from time to time in Lis own wooded corner of it, looking for enemies to kill and coins to gather. Every World of Warcraft player needs those coins, and mostly for one reason: to pay for the virtual gear to fight the monsters to earn the points to reach the next level. And there are only two ways players can get as much of this virtual money as the game requires: they can spend hours collecting it or they can pay someone real money to do it for them. More Video At the end of each shift, Li reports the nights haul to his supervisor, and at the end of the week, he, like his nine co-workers, will be paid in full. The boss, in turn, receives $3 or more when he sells those same coins to an online retailer, who will sell them to the final customer (an American or European player) for as much as $20. The small commercial space Li and his colleagues work in two rooms, one for the workers and another for the supervisor along with a rudimentary workers dorm, a half-hours bus ride away, are the entire physical plant of this modest $80,000-a-year business. It is estimated that there are thousands of businesses like it all over China, neither owned nor operated by the game companies from which they make their money. The polite name for these operations is youxi gongzuoshi, or gaming workshops, but to gamers throughout the world, they are better known as gold farms. While the Internet has produced some strange new job descriptions over the years, it is hard to think of any more surreal than that of the Chinese gold farmer. s, is a fast-growing one, with no fewer than 80 current titles and many more under development, all targeted at a player population that totals around 30 million worldwide. As has also been true since D & D, however, the romance of this imaginary life stands in sharp contrast to the plodding, mathematical precision with which it proceeds. Tips To find reference information about the words used in this article, double-click on any word, phrase or name. A new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.