Gaming proves profitable

While many students may partake in online games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, they may be unaware that the hours they spend conquering new territories and selling weapons may generate actual cash.

Julian Dibbell, visiting Professor and contributing writer for Wired Magazine, spoke Tuesday about his financial success through online gaming in his talk titled “Ludocapitalism: Real Money from Play Economics, and How I Made It.”

Dibbell’s talk was part of the Center for Advanced Study’s Initiative for Interpreting Technoscience, which looks at how different types of technology “affects human identity, cultural knowledge and democratic action,” said Rayvon Fouche, CAS resident associate.

Dibbell, who made a total of $47,000 from 2003 to 2004 through virtual trading, laboring and writing, said gaming hours can be used to gain real-world money.

“People have bought their dream houses, funded their child’s college education, everything,” he said. “You can take your family to Disney World, which is what I did.”

Dibbell said World of Warcraft currently has an average of 11 million active players, which generates $1 billion in revenue for the video gaming industry.

“Play is essentially becoming what steam was in the 19th century,” he said. “A simple, fun way to generate a profit,”

Massively Multiplayer Online games, such as World of Warcraft, have become increasingly popular with students and adults alike, regardless of whether they use their avatars to pay the bills, Dibbell said.

Vince Martin, graduate student, said he knows people who have profited through their gaming.

“The concept is not new to me,” Martin said. “I play World of Warcraft and Mafia Wars, and Mafia Wars just reached 10 million people, so they’re both pretty populated. I have never made money off of either, but I have friends who have cashed out their WOW (World of War) accounts.”

There are those who do not consider themselves gamers, such as Linda Vigdor, graduate student, but still find themselves drawn to aspects of multiplayer video games.

“I designed some of the early Massive Multiplayer games,” Vigdor said, “Now I look at games on a gender level; why aren’t girls playing as much (as boys), that sort of focus.”

Among the audience members were people looking to better understand gaming from an academic standpoint, such as Amber Buck, graduate student, who is writing her dissertation on how people represent themselves through technology.

“I’m more interested (in gaming) on an intellectual level,” Buck said. “Some of the students that I am studying are gamers.”