The Digital Black Market

03Oct11

While the readings focused specifically on regulation of the creative industries themselves, the products they develop are raising similar legal and regulatory concerns. Toby Miller focuses on the exploitative practices of video game companies such as EA which require employees to crunch. However, in the world of MMORPGs, the so called crunch never ends, and has nothing to do with the development of the game.  Gold Farming, the process in which individuals are employed to harvest valuable in games items in order to sell them for real dollars to other players, often requires workers to “play” incredibly long hours for little pay in horrendous conditions.

Although game companies often provide provisions that prohibit this type of behavior and ban accounts when gold farming is discovered, gold farms continue to pop up, particularly in China. While regulations of the creative industries continues to dominate our discussion, inclusion of regulating the products use is just as important. The question then becomes, is it the job of the producer to police the use of the product (Blizzard actively polices gold farming as it violates their terms of service, but eliminating the practice in its entirety is near impossible), or do government and regulatory entities need to step in?

-Mike Lang

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