Desperate Venezuelans Turn To MMORPGs To Survive

Gold farming is a term often associated with China, but it can become a major source of income in any country facing financial hardship. Venezuela's ongoing economy crisis has led to hyperinflation in the local currency, and most Venezuelan's have their salaries fixed in Bolivars. As of December 4, it took an astonishing 108,279 Bolivar to buy a single US Dollar.

That devaluation has all but eliminated the value of local salaries and savings, and many professionals have turned to farming gold in MMORPGs like Tibia (1997) and Runescape (1999). The reason Venezuelans farm such old games is their internet connections are ranked among the worst in the world, even worse than war ravaged Syria.

A riveting Bloomberg article details some of the hardships the South American country is facing and the lengths men are willing to go in order to provide food for their families. One woman recalls fighting with her husband over his obsession with Tibia, and how the recent crisis has changed her perspective on the game:

“We’d get into ugly fights, and he would tell me: ‘I’ll leave you before I give up Tibia,’” she recalls. “But I can’t argue with what he’s making.”

The Bloomberg piece also highlights the animosity between gold sellers, the gaming community, and the developers behind these titles. Users on Reddit have even posted a guide on how to identify and kill Venezuelans in these MMORPGs. A 27 year old former engineer who is now farming RuneScape gold to provide for his family has been banned repeatedly by Jagex. Each ban sets him back weeks as he has to grind new characters capable of efficiently farming gold. “Shouldn’t they be proud that entire families are being fed by their game?’’ he says to Bloomberg.

“Shouldn’t they be proud that entire families are being fed by their game?’’

Hopefully the socialist party ruling Venezuela is soon ousted and the economy can return to normalcy. Until then, perhaps the RMT users among us can feel a little better about our habits knowing they are helping provide for struggling families across the world.

Further Reading: Bloomberg Article