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playbor & global video games

While game studies is not my area of expertise, this week turned out to be one of the most interesting and important units of the semester. First, we talked a little about virtual economies, including the landmark paper on virtual economies by Edward Castronova. We also read Bulut's article on video game testers in addition to an excerpt from Games of Empire.

Globalization & Gold Farming

Next, we moved on to this article on gold farming, which is the practice of playing a game in order to amass virtual items/currency that you can exchange for real money.

What's fascinating to me about gold farming is that it provides such a clear example of how digital technology and globalization have created an entirely new set of working practices. These resources below address the explosion of gold farming in Venezuela, which of course is in the midst of a national economic crisis. Here are some resources @chasfile shared discussing digital game labor in Venezuela:

Article from Kotaku (probably one of the most widely-read gaming news website) on Venezuelan farmers from October 2017

Article from September 2017 on Polygon (maybe the second-most) about some of the backlash:

Articles on how power outages in Venezuela have impacted gold farming -- and thus caused major fluctuations in the virtual game economies-- aren't as numerous, but here are one, two and three.

Crossword Reading Assessment

Moving on , for the unit I also made a crossword that was fun for everyone to complete as a reading assessment. It's available here.

Video Game Modding

Finally, my student discussion partners came up with some really interesting activities to help us play "modded" games this week, building on Postigo's research.

These were some of the resources my students shared and we played these games together in class:

Original Mario:

Mario Mod:


Pacman Mod ( Requires Internet Explorer):

In closing, really enjoyed this unit as it gave me new insight into the globalized nature of digital labor. Thanks for reading!



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© 2019 by Jessica Crowell