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The evolution of the gold farming industry

It's a rare event when I wake up, walk to the computer, yawn, and think to myself what I could possibly write about only to have an article walk up to me, sit in my lap, and cuddle. Today it happened.

We've all seen what I call the evolution of spam in-game. First it was just straight tell spam. Blizzard fixed that. Then it was group spam. Now it seems gold farmers have taken to just sitting in the capital cities and screaming their lungs off until they get reported and/or zapped by a GM.

I think the reporting mechanism is starting to get to them though. Every time they lose an account (when it's reported) they have to make a new one. In the scope of the money they're making it's really not a big deal, but it's tedious repetition and I saw the first signs this morning that they've shifted their focus and are moving to more aggressive tactics.

I fired up Adium (my Mac instant messenger) and was immediately greeted by a request for contact authorization. I'll stop here for a moment so you can gasp, because what happened after this is exactly what you think. I looked at the address that was requesting authentication and it didn't really ring a bell. I looked at the display picture and saw a cropped screenshot of two blood elves staring back at me. I reasoned that it had to be someone from my guild, even though I wasn't sure who. I accepted the request and the contact appeared on my contact list. As it turns out, they were online.

I greeted this person and asked who they were because I was anxious to know. My question was ignored, and the response came "hello. how are you." Out of courtesy I responded to their question but repeated my original question. The mysterious contact responded "i'm betsy from xxx company. can i ask if you play the wow" at which point my gold farmer anger (which often transforms me into the Incredible Hulk) kicked in and I simply said "Good bye" and blocked the contact. My Adium privacy setting were borked though, and it took several seconds to effectively block this person. During this time she continued her sales pitch even though I had told her I wasn't interested.

I have never ever bought gold, so I have no idea how this company got my Windows Live ID. You can rest assured though that if they got mine, they may have gotten some of yours as well. So if you get a contact authorization from a "corporate sounding" hotmail address with a WoW-themed display picture, be forewarned.

What's next? Telemarketing? I cringe at the mere thought.

[Note: The name of the company and the representative have been edited. I do not want to give this "company" any form of advertisement whatsoever. And as tempting as it is to reveal their Windows Live ID, I'm not going to do that either.]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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