Re: [-empyre-] Virtual sweatshops, SL:s dark side?

Hi Ana,

What's interesting about Anshe's virtual goods is that they're not actually goods, but rather environments or spaces. So, the commodity is substituted for a built experience.

Beyond Anshe's example, I'm curious if there are others; also, if you have a good link to Anshe's globalized labor, please send it. I find the practice of outsourcing in simulated worlds to be both fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

What's captivated me about SL is how little people will work for. Custom objects cost next to nothing. Maybe this won't last.

And for all those who have spent any time on Second Life, you'll quickly notice the camping chairs -- where you sit and get paid a fractional amount of Linden dollars for doing nothing. Casinos, malls, etc. want to attract customers and avatars show up as green dots on the map. Others teleport there in the hope of meeting people and instead, you get a bunch of people doing nothing and usually not responding to you, while they get paid something on the order of 75 cents/hour. Whoa.

The recent trend is to actually have the avatars looking like they're working, but doing menial labor. I think the reason is to make the green dots on the map look a little less geometric -- once you go into SL for awhile, you realize that stacked pattern of dots is a bunch of chairs.

Wired did a blog entry on this: swabbing_the_po.html

At least here, leisure time accumulating capital is represented as labor.


On Aug 13, 2007, at 6:01 PM, Ana Valdés wrote:

Hi Scott and thanks for an interesting input to these rich discussion!
I feel than SL via Anshe Chung, who owns factory in China where
virtual goods are "generated", reminds me of the maquilas in Mexico
where people make virtual goods for Everquest.
Dibbels book "Playing with Money" is about it.


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