W have started a blog
What might we aim for?Edit
- Anyone who is poor with good internet access can support themselves by working in MMOs and virtual worlds - offering digital goods and services to other people.
- We can use gold farming as a first step on that path.
What are the problems?Edit
- The current gold farming industry detracts from the experience of players by spamming, hacking, and exploiting workers.
- It involves an economic hierarchy - rich players, intermediary bosses (who supply computing and internet access), and poor players employed to work as gold farmers.
- Some bosses utilise frustrating practices like spam advertising or hacking player accounts. Many poor players are encouraged to work for long hours under relatively opressing conditions. On average they earn around 40% of the final sale-value of their work (see the Guardian, NPR and the NY Times).
What can we do?Edit1. Build free gold farming studios in countries around the world, where computers and bandwidth are provided as tools, so farmers no longer need to sacrifice wages in order to access MMOs and virtual worlds. They can work autonomously and in better conditions.
2. Build an open and free virtual work exchange where farmers can connect directly with other players to exchange virtual work on their own terms.
3. Build a user-generated metaverse so that anyone can create virtual worlds easily, and people can participate in the worlds of others, and even derive real-world value from doing so.
- Around 400 000 people globally earn their living working in massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft
- Mostly they collect in-game currency (known as gold farming) or build high-level characters (known as power leveling) which are then sold to other players (more information here and an infographic here)
- The global market for this industry was valued at over $3bn annually by a study from within the World Bank.
- Gold farming has been featured on the NY Times, the BBC, and the Economist.
- To keep the cost of gold low, the industry typically employs very poor people in developing countries. Goldfarmers by population are Chinese, Vietnamese, and Mexican.
- Most of these people work long hours, often in poor conditions, and usually the person providing them with computing equipment takes a cut of their earnings in exchange (see the Guardian, NPR and the NY Times).
- The development potential of gold farming has been discussed by The World Bank, Cory Doctorow, and Richard Heeks, among others.
- The money involved is small enough to flow easily from wealthy players, and large enough to make a difference to the people doing the work.
- Work together to create better options for both players and farmers.
- Use a model developed by the ethical outsourcing company Samasource:
- 1. Build gold farming studios where workers have autonomy and can all lead themselves:
- A place where the computers and bandwidth are donated or self-supplied. Farmers are able to work here for free. They do not need a superior who is taking a cut. A guild forms of these farmers all over the world and they try to serve the interests of players better. For this part of the mission we're going to raise a few thousand dollars on kickstarter.
- 2. Build a portal that connects these farmers directly to buyers:
- This will be a website where farmers can sell their goods and services directly to buyers without commission – they can charge their own price and keep it all. For buyers, this will be a place to purchase gold and services that is humane and non-exploitative. We hope that the gold sold here could be quite cheap, as farmers currently receive only around 40% of the revenue from their work: they could pay themselves more while charging less. This website would support itself with advertisements.
More about the project and wikiEdit
What kind of management and structure will this project have?
- As open as possible - we would like as many people as possible to help, and share in the rewards of their contribution.
- We want to use a business model where anyone can gain a stake through their own contributions, and then be able to benefit financially from growth in that stake over time. Something like an open business.
How is the project going to fund itself?
- For the centre, we will need some external funding. We will launch a kickstarter campaign later this year.
- For the website, we can try various funding models. One would be to partner with other companies and run advertisements. Another would be to offer a kind of freemium service.
Where do you see this going?
We hope this is the first step to:
- helping anyone anywhere on the planet to earn an income in online communities if they want
- increasing the freedom and choices available to virtual workers.
- creaing a user-generated metaverse
How can I get involved?
- Click 'Edit' and add your thoughts.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact us on Twitter