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Old computer games help create micro jobs

Warning: Illegal, and also not worthwhile in Germany. In Venezuela, though, the unemployed are earning themselves a few dollars by collecting gold for other players in roleplay games.

06 Feb. 2018 Isabelle Reiff

Venezuela’s currency is worthless. While the President continues to try to open a back door via cryptocurrency, some Venezuelans have turned to gold farming. Not in real life, but in dingy Internet cafes. They sit in front of old CRT monitors and play outdated online games like Tibia and RuneScape. Because the dire connection speed in Venezuela cannot cope with more than just coarse pixel graphics.

The irony: In the First World, others play these games out of pure nostalgia, but don’t have the patience or desire to invest any time in their characters. And so they buy the virtual gold won by the Venezuelans for a few dollars on online marketplace Mercadolibre. It won’t make the poor rich, but in Venezuela, it earns them enough for a meal.

Mathew Kemp, a project manager at Jagex in Cambridge, Great Britain, the developer of RuneScape, says the company bans around 10,000 accounts a day. "If we were to allow gold farming, it would destroy the game," he said in an e-mail to ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’ . Online gaming magazine ‘Mein MMO’ reports that in Germany some people still swear by Linden Dollars: People who create content in Second Life, offer cybersex, or promote real products can also earn real euros from this.