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Global Implications of Gaming: Gold Farming

2009 April 15
by Laura Blankenship

Notes Towards the Session

We are comparing games to books. A fictional book is similar to a game in that it’s a fantasy and that one might identify with the main character; however, someone else argued that that’s not necessarily true, that someone might not use a book to escape or might not identify with the character.  Games seemed to encourage this identification more.

Anne had trouble with the social sciences articles. The articles tended to come up with very stereotypical categories and assumptions about those categories–i.e. men vs. women, aggression vs. non-aggression.

Neither essay questioned the technologies of gender, did not seem to incorporate our complication of the whole concept of gender. We’re not really exploring different categories. Laura says: One thing to note about the social sciences is that there is a *lot* of pressure to produce quantitative research instead of qualitative research (which looks at particularities in the way that Anne likes).

We should think about causation and correlation and the difference between them. My thought–we seek for causes, but often only find correlations, and of course, social scientists are often super careful not to assume causation, although the media often does, leading to those many stories about how Facebook is awful.

Stories are great, but they are often limiting when they aren’t reflective or do not place their story within a larger context (which is what social science tends to do but misses the individuality). The first two stories for today felt like this.

Me: one thought I had about the first two She’s Such a Geek stories is that they represent the tension between the female body and a male-dominated world. Fatality!, especially, shows that when a woman gets her period, she becomes very separated from the male world.

Our life starts after work. Even play can be alienating when it’s someone else’s work. Gold farming is more than outsourcing. We may be aware of who produces our shoes, but we don’t have to come face-to-face with them. Having to face the gold farmers in game causes anxiety. The virtual world is a global village but it is divided. The world is not flat.


My gaming implications: one thing I notice is that I think of gender more fluidly online. When I’m talking to people, I’m often not seeing their avatars and I’m looking at some kind of weird fantasy name that doesn’t always clearly identify gender. I hope this helps me (others?) to see gender more fluidly. Another thing I think about is the way that people across many spectrums of location, age, class (to some extent) are thrown together. For some of the younger (and often poorer) players, this is an opportunity to meet people from these different spectra that they would never have in real life. We find ourselves, I think educating each other about what it’s like to be in rural or urban America or to be a mom or a middle-schooler, etc., which I think is valuable.

And now your stories . . .


Roldine talks about the way that we make the world flat through music is to export American music elsewhere. Is that more like colonialism?

Playing a game not of your culture means that you spend a lot of time disoriented.

Wii Fit displays some issues related to body image. The construction of the game itself is complicated and created in different factories in different parts of the world.

Aline talks about not knowing where her iPod is made. Is this a problem?

Nat talks about how companies use stories to hook you in.

The Doctor mentions that we can’t separate ourselves and our individual stories from global implications and we wouldn’t want to or we’ll never think about global implications.

Solomon and Rebecca discuss volunteer games vs. games for pay. Your play creates work for people not being paid for that work. Does volunteering break the magic circle?

What can we do with what we know? We can know more. What can we do? Do we stop gaming? Gaming is not different in kind from all the other consumption we do. Don’t support the people who violate the “rules” or norms. We can petition companies for change

Notes Towards the Session

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