Markets in everything: Virtual sweatshops

We’ve known for some time that online games have spawned markets where virtual assets go for real dollars. What’s the implication? Profit opportunities for anyone willing to put together high-tech capital and low-cost labor from places such as China, Indonesia and Romania:

Rich Thurman earned $100,000 by farming 9 billion gold in Ultima
Online… Thurman says he had "up to
30 PCs running at once, automatically collecting gold for me."

That is the first step. It isn’t too difficult from there to make the
leap into creating your own sweatshop. All you need is the ability to
write game macros or the money to purchase them. That’s right, if you
know where to look, they are on the open market. A macro that uses a
teleportation exploit in WOW is currently going for $3,000. Then just
hire cheap labor to monitor the bots.

The full story is at the gaming site 1UP, and worth browsing. The tip from Edward Castronova at Terra Nova. Castronova studies the economics and sociology of virtual worlds – read his most famous paper.