m a r k a n d e y a

Human Nature

Posted by Brian on March 14, 2006

It’s news like this that makes me embarrassed to be human:

Real-world economics have given rise to an international gray market for the spoils of online gaming—virtual specie, rare magical items, cyber real estate, even high-level character accounts—especially in South Korea, which boasts the world’s greatest number of players.

The phenomenon has led to tensions—even in-game rampages by angry lynch mobs—between the gamers and enterprising capitalists from China and other countries, who get paid high prices for virtual bounty from such games as NCsoft’s Lineage and Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.

Korean gamers complain that it’s ruining the fun for them. And they’re convinced that even if all the farmers aren’t Chinese—gold farming is big business in Indonesia and in many CIS countries, too—all the Chinese they meet in the games are farmers.

“Normally, it is believed [by Korean gamers] that 100 percent of Chinese gamers are item traders. When I send a message [to] them, they don’t respond at all, and keep killing monsters,” said Lee Hyung Bin, a Korean game critic.

That’s led to virtual violence by Lineage lynch mobs within the games. “Once, the lord of our castle ordered us to massacre Chinese users. The magician’s first command is often to kill Chinese users these days,” a Lineage player named Kim Byung Soo said in a game discussion group.

“Nobody can imagine how Chinese users are acting on our servers,” said the frustrated player. “Every time, they kill Korean users and take items from the corpse. So we have 44 guardsmen consisting of magicians to kill Chinese users.”

Not everyone in the virtual items market in China is content with simple farming. A report by South Korean network security firm GEOT claims that 4,000 incidents of game theft from NCsoft’s Lineage took place between May 2005 and February 2006, according to the Interfax news agency. Hackers use malware designed to retrieve game account usernames and passwords, and are based mainly in China, the report said.

Here we have a computer game – a game – designed to bring a bit of fun and excitement into people’s lives, but instead we get greed, cyber-ethnic clashes, and hi-tech malfeasance – with a little bit of gaming on the side.

And here’s your feel-good quote of the day, from a different article:

“Korean players stand there waiting for Chinese players to enter – you can tell they are Chinese because they can’t speak Korean – and then they kill them,” Ms Choi says. “I befriended some Chinese teenagers and tried to teach them, but Koreans kept trying to kill them so they all left the game. I just cried.”

The funny thing is that (well, maybe it isn’t all that funny) all this talk from Korean gamers of killing chinese players is redolent of the anti-Korean player backlash that occured at the height of Diablo 2’s popularity. People were killing off Korean gamers then for some of the same reasons that Koreans are killing the Chinese now. And if I recall correctly, the targeted Korean players were crying “foul.” Now the victim is the perp.

It’s a shame that a game can be misused to such an extent.

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3 Responses to “Human Nature”

  1. Charles said

    One of the many reasons I never got involved in mmorpgs. It’s like an internet chat board where you can kill people you don’t like.

  2. Hobbes was right.

    Online lift, being in a relative state of nature, is nasty, brutish and short.

  3. gordsellar said

    Read Cory Doctorow’s story “Anda’s Game” yet? (Or for a wonderful podcast of the story, download the three parts (#16, 17, 18, I think) on this page.)

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