Unless you’ve spent the past years in a cave, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of (or played) World of Warcraft. About 12 million players from all over the world play this game. They pretend they are an Elf, an Orc or (how boring) a Human Being and venture forth in a Tolkienesque on-line world called Azeroth .
For those unfamiliar with the game here’s a rough run down of it’s basic mechanics. By slaying creatures and solving puzzles, players experience points and coins. Experience points help them boost their characters skills and coins help them buy better equipment. Better skills and equipment make it possible to beat harder quests and slay tougher opponents. In turn this yields even more experience points and coins. Having a high level character with superior (more expensive) weapons gains you something else: status with other players in Azeroth . Unlike the coins these players are real people: their praise or scorn is also real .
Besides cheating a player has two options:
1. get busy: play the game a whole lot .
2. get creative: pay someone else to play for you.
That’s right. Players who are short on time but not on money pay others for whom the opposite is true, to do the hard work for them.
All over east Asia so called gold farmers pretend to be someone else pretending to play a game earning them lots of pretend money in a pretend world. They get paid real money for their pretend labour. The average gold farmer makes about 150$ a month, roughly the equivalent of a Chinese flight attendent .
Of course when money is involved, crime follows hot on its heals. There are reports of game characters being kidnapped, robbed or even murdered. Sadly this may even lead to real crime in the real world .
The lesson to be learned here: the virtual world is creating real business opportunities for making real money . Here are some of my creative business ideas (some of which may already exist in some form or another)
- Virtual bounty hunters and mercenaries (who get paid real money to to kill virtual characters).
- Virtual bodyguards (who get paid to prevent this).
- Virtual prostitutes (who get paid for….you can figure this one out yourself).
- Virtual private eyes (who get paid to report if someone’s significant other is frequenting the above category).
What business would you start?