Gold Farmers Mimic Behavior of Drug Dealers

Gold Farmers Mimic Behavior of Drug Dealers

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The networks that sell virtual items illegally in MMORPGs behave similarly to the networks that sell actual illegal goods in the real world.

Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad and Brian Keegan of Northwestern University hypothesized that the illicit activities of virtual worlds would mimic those of the real world. By studying both gold farmers and drug dealers, they found that the techniques used to keep both in business were very similar.

The pair says they compared data from an EverQuest 2 gold farming network with "a drug trafficking ring obtained from a Canadian law enforcement taskforce called Project Caviar." The data released is a bit complicated, but they found that the gold farming network "exhibits a clear pattern of dissortative mixing that resembles the dissortative pattern observed in the offline Caviar drug trafficking network," which they say is "key evidence that behaviors in online, virtual worlds also map onto behaviors found in the offline, real world."

Phew, my brain hurts already. Further, by simulating attacks on both the gold farming and drug trafficking networks, the duo found that gold farming networks "have substantial resilience to both random failures and determined attacks over several orders of magnitude before fracturing into many disconnected components, a pattern which is also found in a real-world drug trafficking network."

Check out the full article for the specifics of what Ahmad and Keegan researched and discovered, where all of their information is explained in detail with helpful graphs. Considering how drugs and gold are both technically policed goods, it's not surprising that their networks operate in similar ways. It's always interesting when aspects of the real world end up making their way into the virtual realm, even if gold isn't quite as addicting as crack.

Source: Gold Farming via Boing Boing

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Comparing patterns is one thing, but comparing examples is what seals the deal for me really. And I don't see the human cost in banhammering goldsellers unlike in real life, where a 'banhammer' of equal comparative measure would for a trafficker equal death or incarceration.

Does ot surprise me at all. I just wish they could do more to combat the problem...

I hope ISPs can help MMO Devs crack down on these guys eventually.

"Hey, I'd, uhh, like some Gold."

"Right this way. You want any needles, too?"

"Needles? Fuck, no, WoW Gold."

I never get people who buy gold in game. Buying items is one thing, but buying money?

Did... I... read... graphs!?

OT: It's an interesting thought, even the comparison of imprisoning/banning purchaser of said illegal goods. If they manage to prove that thesis law enforcers could have another sandbox to test their aproach.

Gold dealers are just dealing a drug of a different sort, offering the promise of making one's virtual experience less painful, and all it takes is a taste for some to get hooked. I knew a guy who spent hundreds of dollars on gold for WoW, and all that made him do was blow it on trade skills and consumables, since he felt he had so much gold to spend, yet it ended up just making him go buy more and more. He never bothered to sell his account, he told me, because he'd put so much real money into it that any pittance he'd get from a sale would be but a small fraction of his initial investment.

There's also the fact that a lot of these gold sellers and power leveling services are themselves part of larger scale credit card and identity theft rings, doing things like using stolen Paypal information to purchase accounts at inflated rates and then turn around and resell the account to someone else as quickly as possible, benefiting from the stolen money and stolen character.

Tom Goldman:
It's always interesting when aspects of the real world end up making their way into the virtual realm, even if gold isn't quite as addicting as crack.

Sigh, well some people keep buying it. (Not me by the way,Honest!)

I've never once bought money in a game. Never plan too.

More fun when you go and make it yourself anyway.

Orcus_35:
Addicts !

Actually people who dont have enought time to farm gold usually buy it...

So I suppose that means gold farming will now be punishable by international law. Felony offense resulting in a fine of no less than 250,000 and 30 years if caught using a bot, 750,000 and life if caught extorting a player online.

So I suppose that means gold farming will now be punishable by international law. Felony offense resulting in a fine of no less than 250,000 and 30 years if caught using a bot, 750,000 and life if caught extorting a player online.

Hey man, Wana buy some ten carrot?

I still love it when people get banhammered for buying gold:

You will find in any game forum:

"I've been banned for no reason, what the fuck?!"

What's the point of buying gold anyway these days? I can't speak for EQ but in WoW, leveling to 80 with a warrior(which guzzles down repair money at the same rate as a mage does(free) drinks) left me with a little over half of what's needed for a the mammoth. At that point it's slightly under a month worth of icecrown dailies exclusively or two weeks of regular instancing. Pvpers have a slightly harder time but since when do they have any use for a repair bot anyway?

"It's always interesting when aspects of the real world end up making their way into the virtual realm, even if gold isn't quite as addicting as crack."

Obviously someone has never made 25,000 gold in a few days of auction house shenanigans. It's like injecting heroin directly into my eyeballs.

What's the point of buying gold anyway these days?

Maybe GDKP hasn't made it to your server yet, but people drop assloads of gold for raid gear. I saw a trinket go for 36,000 gold last night.

Vhite:

Orcus_35:
Addicts !

Actually people who dont have enought time to farm gold usually buy it...

Which I can fully support. I simply don't have the time or patience to play such games seriously enough to actually acquire the cash for a decent item in a timely fashion. Were I to actually get to the end game of something like WOW, I might consider a gold/item purchase if the price was right (and I can't say what that threshold might be) and if it was legal.

Sure, I once had more time than money but those days are long past. Now, my hours are more valuable than my 20 bucks.

mattaui:
There's also the fact that a lot of these gold sellers and power leveling services are themselves part of larger scale credit card and identity theft rings, doing things like using stolen Paypal information to purchase accounts at inflated rates and then turn around and resell the account to someone else as quickly as possible, benefiting from the stolen money and stolen character.

I was going to make a similar point. The RWTers often have real world criminal aspects.

To pay for their farming accounts they'll use thousands of stolen credits cards, the easiest source of these is to steal their own customers card numbers.

Once they realise the customer's not coming back, charge a dozen WoW accounts to their card. Always makes me laugh when someone's bought gold and been banned so they lose all they bought and then months later they have to close their credit card cause the RWT company is stealing their monies! :)

Let's go ahead and point out the fact that drug dealers fuel murder and goldfarming deflates video game items. Whatever makes you guys feel important I guess.

Asehujiko:
What's the point of buying gold anyway these days? I can't speak for EQ but in WoW, leveling to 80 with a warrior(which guzzles down repair money at the same rate as a mage does(free) drinks) left me with a little over half of what's needed for a the mammoth. At that point it's slightly under a month worth of icecrown dailies exclusively or two weeks of regular instancing. Pvpers have a slightly harder time but since when do they have any use for a repair bot anyway?

Part of the reason (if not the entire reason) Blizzard implemented daily quests was to severely blunt the appeal of gold sellers. It used to be, in the days before dailies (ha) that you had to rely on either gathering or crafting and the AH to make gold, or just get lucky with drops that you could turn around and sell, again, on the AH. With the existence of dailies, especially with how many there are now, you know with a certainty that if you're willing to put in x amount of hours y days a week you'll get z gold at minimum, along with whatever rep and perks that go with it.

As was mentioned above, I find the argument that buying gold is okay because your time is so valuable to be pretty hollow, since while you may think you're entitled to it, you explicitly agree not to when you fire up the game (but what's a pesky legally binding agreement, right?). It's like coming over to play Monopoly with your friends and bringing a few grand from your copy, since you know, your time is so much more valuable than this rabble you're playing with! If you don't have the time to play WoW, I totally feel you there (I presently don't), but that means you don't have time to play. Not that it's okay for you to cheat.

I wonder if the two trades are directly related in any way.

Legalize drugs and gold farming now!

mattaui:

Asehujiko:
What's the point of buying gold anyway these days? I can't speak for EQ but in WoW, leveling to 80 with a warrior(which guzzles down repair money at the same rate as a mage does(free) drinks) left me with a little over half of what's needed for a the mammoth. At that point it's slightly under a month worth of icecrown dailies exclusively or two weeks of regular instancing. Pvpers have a slightly harder time but since when do they have any use for a repair bot anyway?

Part of the reason (if not the entire reason) Blizzard implemented daily quests was to severely blunt the appeal of gold sellers. It used to be, in the days before dailies (ha) that you had to rely on either gathering or crafting and the AH to make gold, or just get lucky with drops that you could turn around and sell, again, on the AH. With the existence of dailies, especially with how many there are now, you know with a certainty that if you're willing to put in x amount of hours y days a week you'll get z gold at minimum, along with whatever rep and perks that go with it.

As was mentioned above, I find the argument that buying gold is okay because your time is so valuable to be pretty hollow, since while you may think you're entitled to it, you explicitly agree not to when you fire up the game (but what's a pesky legally binding agreement, right?). It's like coming over to play Monopoly with your friends and bringing a few grand from your copy, since you know, your time is so much more valuable than this rabble you're playing with! If you don't have the time to play WoW, I totally feel you there (I presently don't), but that means you don't have time to play. Not that it's okay for you to cheat.

For any multiplayer title like WoW, I totally agree with you.

But I support buying accelerators in sports games or shooters, so long as you only use them when you're playing by yourself.

So, does this mean that soon gold farmers will be punished under international federal law?

$250,000 and 10 years if you use a bot to farm gold

$750,000 and 30 years if you are caught selling weapons

i can sorta see WHY people buy gold even if I don't agree with it... I mean like in WoW, some stuff cost so much (gold) and pissing about scrapping all that together can be time consuming and... well, boring. SO I can see why some people would just go quick fix and buy a chunk of gold just to bypass the boring shit.

 

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