Friday, October 20, 2017

"The Runescape Players Who Farm Gold So They Don't Starve To Death"

If you even remember Runescape, a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game published by Jagex, it’s likely as “that crummy-looking game you played for a few months 10 years ago.” But it runs just fine on hardware that hasn’t been called state-of-the-art in more than a decade, meaning that it’s accessible to many in Venezuela who are strapped for cash, and its gold still fetches a pretty real-world penny. Gold farming, generally speaking, is the practice of grinding in a game specifically for the purpose of generating in-game currency or other content to be exchanged for real-world money. While it’s prohibited by Runescape’s rules, it’s also a relatively safe and comfortable job in a place where one’s safety is by no means guaranteed.

“I gold farm mostly for the raw benefits of it,” a player who goes by the handle Fhynal told me via DMs. “I don’t have to go out. That may sound strange, but we live with a lot of crime. If you want to go out, you have to use a bus, [which increases your] propensity to be robbed.”

Fhynal said he earns around 200,000-250,000 Venezuelan Bolivares, or approximately $15-$20, per week. This adds up to “double, sometimes triple” the average monthly salary in Venezuela, he said, even factoring in the occasional week that he takes off to keep a “low profile” and avoid getting caught.