Chinese Gold-Farming in the 2000s: Worker Empowerment and Local Development Through Video Games-Based Digital Labor

Matthew Ming-tak Chew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates how gold-farming contributed to worker empowerment and local development in China in the 2000s. Adopting a critical development studies perspective, I appraise the positive social impact of gold-farming but also explicate how it is constrained by the capitalist economic and authoritarian political contexts. I find that gold-farming offered workers informational mobility and low-overhead entrepreneurship opportunities and that it created employment and enhanced social order in marginalized localities. But it provided only slightly better wages and work conditions than the average Chinese factory. A major reason was exploitation by global capitalist corporations and local officials. My primary dataset was collected between 2005 and 2008 from participant observation and interviewing in three gold farms, multiple and in-depth interviews of over 40 insiders, and online documentary sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-803
Number of pages21
JournalGames and Culture
Volume18
Issue number6
Early online date17 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese Internet
  • critical development studies
  • digital labor
  • gold farming
  • ITC4D
  • worker empowerment

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