I messed up the “gold mining” in the video game stuff. The big game seems to be “World of WarCraft or Wow”; about 6 million people play it. It’s a strange game—people don’t compete against each other. It’s one of those games with levels; this one has 60 levels. That’s how you develop a character, by going up levels.
But while the game is not about competing, some sort of ego thing seems involved in character development. Developing your character requires spending a lot of time online, and people with jobs have a hard time putting in the time. So they pay people in China for the points—or whatever they are called—these people get while playing. The people in China work in video game sweat shops; they get two or three dollars a day to play the game 12 hours a day. Sometimes they live in dorms located in the sweatshop. These are mostly young people happy for the 2 or 3 dollars a day.
So if you are a rich guy or gal living in the west you contact one of these sweatshops and send them money via PayPal, and they get one of their workers to pass points to you online because somehow it is possible for one character to walk up to another and give them virtual money online.
The owners of “WoW” are upset about this not because of the exploitation involved but because “WoW” is supposed to be a fantasy game and this gold mining stuff lets reality in through the back door.
A subculture has sprung up around WoW, involving T-shirt sales, music and such. And on U-Tube you can video made about the game. There’s even sort of a U Tube video show called pureponage (or something like that). You can find a pretty good episode called WoW is a Feeling, about a guy who goes nuts playing the game. And South Park did a good parody of the game.
If however you are looking for something more familiar and evocative of the days of your youth, you might want to check out the bits on pieces of Un Chien Andelou.
Like this is all totally strange to me. I sit there listening to the students give their oral reports and I have no idea what they are talking about. One guy is writing on these games because his younger brother became “addicted” and wouldn’t do anything but play the game.
I wish Borges were still alive so he might write some sort of story about all this.