An Incredibly Boring RPG

Thanks to friend Kathleen for drawing our attention to this super quote. It’s from the introductory pages of In Real Life, a comic book by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang.

The quote concerns the reality that people now routinely make money in online video games through selling favours or in-world currency to other players:

It’s not surprising that gamespace has become a workplace for hundreds of thousands of “gold farmers” who undertake dreary, repetitive labor, to produce virtual wealth that’s sold to players with more money and less patience than them. The structural differences between in-game play and in-game work are mostly arbitrary, and “real” work is half a game anyway. Most of the people you see going to work today are LARPing (live-action roll playing) an incredibly boring RPG (roll-playing game) called “Professionalism” that requires them to alter their vocabulary, posture, eating habits, facial expressions — every detail all the way down to what they allow themselves to find funny.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

7 Responses to “An Incredibly Boring RPG”

  1. Kathleen says:

    Shucks! Thank you for the mention and link – hopefully this week I will get to reading the rest of the comic! And, yes, I really need to update the blog.

  2. Credit where credit’s due!

  3. Drew says:

    Sweet Jesus. I’m not sure what I find more disturbing: the fact that there is such a thing as gold-farming, or the fact that there are people out there (I believe the technical term is “losers”) who would actually pay for it.

    I am ever-closer to pulling a Thoreau. Rob, I’ll send you my coordinates and you can deliver handwritten articles to me via carrier-pigeon. Or just swing by periodically and tell me stories as we sit around the campfire drinking heavily.

  4. It doesn’t strike me as particularly disturbing from the worker perspective. “Repeat X Actions while warming X seat for X hours, receive wages, log off.” Same exact process.

  5. Drew says:

    What is disturbing is the essence of this particular job, which to me rates very high on the uselessness/superfluousness scale due to the nature of the product it delivers. True, the same could be said for most jobs. And yet…

  6. I suppose it’s the logical endpoint to the evolution of the useless job. And we’ve arrived at it! You’re right: that is disturbing.

  7. Drew says:

    In the end, so many jobs involve trying to convince some other sucker to buy stuff they really don’t need (or simply taking advantage of the fact they’ve already decided they need it). Let’s hope humanity never collectively realizes it no longer needs said “stuff”.

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