Sunday, May 31, 2020

How RuneScape is helping Venezuelans survive by working as gold farmers

Mat Ombler for Polygon:

Ninety percent of Venezuelans are now living in poverty, and one of the most extreme and sustained periods of hyperinflation ever recorded means that people working minimum wage jobs are earning the equivalent of $5 a month.

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RuneScape was originally released in 2001 by British developer Jagex, but it’s only in the last four years that a growing number of Veneuzelans have started depending on the game as their main source of income.

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There’s an abundance of online websites that specialize in the buying and selling of RuneScape commodities. It’s a fiercely competitive marketplace, with several websites taking out Google Ads to appear at the top of search listings. At the time of writing, 1 million RuneScape gold sells for 63 cents.

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My first ‘job’ was smelting [runite] bars at the blast furnace.

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When these power outages first occurred last March, they caused an economic crisis in RuneScape that dramatically impacted the prices of heavily farmed items such as dragon bones, Zulrah’s scales, and black chinchompas. As scarcity came into play, RuneScape players quickly discovered what happens to their game’s economy when you suddenly remove a large proportion of players from the game.