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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2006-03-01 07:49:20
MMORPGs are problematic. The issue of gold farming is particularly intractable. One of the reasons I stopped playing World of Warcraft was that farmers were monopolizing the high end resource nodes that I needed to advance my crafting skills. "Ninja looting", the practice of snatching up rare equipment out of turn was rampant. Farmers resorted to these and other nefarious practices to harvest goods to sell at the auction house. These behaviors were responsible for significantly lowering the fun factor of the game.
These farmers would then take this gold, and sell their hoards on the internet. Nary a day would go by without my character receiving in-game junk mail spamming the URL of some new gold vendor. Just do a Google for "wow gold" and you'll see listings - prices ranging up to hundreds of U.S. dollars for a few thousand gold.
Therein lies the true problem. I understand why farmers do what they do. The real fault rests on the consumers that provide a market for their services. Instead of playing the game as designed, simply purchasing game currency provides them with a shortcut of sorts. Unfortunately, it's extremely shortsighted, as this rapidly unbalances the in-game economy, causing inflation and requiring them to purchase ever increasing sums of gold to feed their habit.
The auction house was supposed to facilitate gameplay, by providing a venue for characters to trade items into hands that needed them, but in practice turned into a clearing house of fenced goods, on multiple levels of "reality".
I swore off the genre after overdosing on text-based MUDs back in college, and unless a solution is found for these issues, I'm done with MMOs as well.