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I was especially interested in thinking about the way the notion of “gold farming” in World of Warcraft simultaneously relies on and exploits antiquated metaphors. Firstly, the notion of “gold” is suggestive of a kind of medieval-era economy thatis based around the physical value of gold rather than the invisible flows of capital that characterize the contemporary neoliberal economy. This notion constructs an experience of capital that is purportedly distinct from our own experiences, perhaps even to the point of being anti-capitalist. Yet the fact that these pieces of virtual gold can be exchanged for real capital deeply complicates this notion. “‘Neo-feudal’ MMOs tend to be dominated by market exchange,” point out Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter, who later address the profound impacts that this kind of move can have: “By recapitulating the accumulative structures of consumer capitalism within the archaic dream worlds of MMOs, game companies unleashed a profit-taking dynamic that exceeded their grasp” (150). It is thus clear that the notion of “gold” as it is used in WoW relies on the conjuring of an “archaic dream world” as a means to later exploit these fantasies for capitalist gain.

The “farming” metaphor is similarly recast in online worlds like World of Warcraft, although in a slightly different way. “Farming” is not an official term of the game, but rather an expression made up by gamers as a way to slight those who ostensibly aren’t playing fairly. Much like with “gold,” however, this notion of “farming” conjures an archaic, almost pastoral image. Yet it is, of course, clear that what is happening in this online world has almost nothing in common with the way farming is perceived in our cultural imaginary. Furthermore, this notion of “farming” also creates an interesting tension with the people who are actually doing much of the “gold farming.” The fact that many of these people are migrant Chinese laborers (perhaps even former farmers) recasts the term “gold farming” in an extremely interesting way. It is perhaps then important to consider the deeper motives that exist at the core of these kinds of terms. Why does a game like World of Warcraft (as well as new media more generally) rely so heavily on metaphors such as these? Is this the only way that we can even begin to grasp the new worlds that are being created? Do these terms consequently change the way we see reality?