"I suddenly realized that exporting virtual items through the Internet is the same as transmitting Chinese labor to America." That's how the owner of a "gold farming" company in China explains his business in Chinese Farmers In Gamedom, a documentary-in-progress by
UCSD PhD candidate Ge Jin. The companies employ people to play video games all day in order to accumulate in-game gold or to build in-game equipment, which is then sold to American gamers for real money.
One entrepreneur talks about having to close his company down when complications with his borrowed Paypal account left him unable to sell his products on ebay.
Ge hears the gamers talk about work satisfaction and real vs. virtual worlds, but a stronger theme seems to be percieved hierarchy and exploitation. It turns out Chinese gamers find it insulting when thier American customers call them "farmers." One company owner explains how his is, in fact, a service business. Ge splits the difference by calling the companies "computer workshops" in his captions.
Ge has posted a 6 min preview of Chinese Farmers In The Gamedom on YouTube. [youtube via wmmna]
Terra Nova has some excellent comments, including some from the filmmaker himself. [terranova]