Computer gaming has reached new levels with rapid innovations in the IT field. Gaming industry is constantly evolving and expanding at 9.1% annually to $48.9 billion in 2011 and $68 billion in 2012, making it a fastest-growing component of the international media sector. The games are also evolving and becoming more and more interactive and people centric. Rise of social networking and mobile apps has only provided a boost to this. Nowadays a new genre of games popularly called as ‘MMO’ (Massively Multiplayer Online games) has attracted people.
MMO are those games in which a very large number of players interact with one another in an online virtual world. Such games are hosted on game servers which run 24X7 and can be accessed via internet. MMO games are designed in such a way that the more number of hours a player plays the game, the stronger his character becomes in the game. So a gamer naturally wants to spend huge amounts of time playing the game. However,he has to restrict his gaming hours due to his real world commitments. This characteristic has been capitalized by some companies and they provide ‘Online Gaming Services’ to such gamers.
In most MMO games gold (virtual) is the currency which gamers can use to buy items like weapons, armor etc and the character level shows how strong the gamers’ character is in the game. ‘Gold farming’ refers to generating gold in the game and ‘character leveling’ refers to increasing the level of the character. Generally both of these can be achieved by logging more hours in the game. The companies, most of them in China, which provide ‘online gaming services’ like ‘gold farming’ and ‘character leveling’ usually employ impoverished youths who play the game on behalf of other gamers for a small amount of money. The more they play, the more they are paid. This happens by sharing the user credentials of the gamer with the company providing the ‘online gaming service’. So a gamer in US can, in the literal sense, outsource gaming to someone in China. This situation seems to be a win-win situation as the gamers get more gold and experience and the youth, who actually plays the game, earns a livelihood for his family. The interesting part of this is that it is quasi-illegal as most massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have strict user contracts which prohibit such activities. There have been cases in which users were banned/blacklisted by the MMO game developers and game server providers for indulging in such activities. Still this is an emerging market.
Strangely enough, Gaming started off as a recreational activity and now is evolving into an emerging business with a $500M revenue.
Sabari Girish Nair MBA(ITBM) | SCIT 2013-2015