Internet Addiction, Gold Farming, and the Race Card in a Post-Racial Age
This chapter examines recent controversies over internet addiction and Chinese gold farmers, players of World of Warcraft who make a living acquiring in-game virtual currency and selling it for real money to (mostly Western) players looking to accelerate the tedious “grind” of the leveling-up process. The chapter shows how “cheap play” has been revived as a tool for condemning Chinese “cheap labor,” powerfully informing how internet game addiction is itself culturally and spatially represented in popular and psychiatric discourse. Using Cory Doctorow’s story “Anda’s Game” as a case study, it considers how twenty-first-century American anxieties about ludic immersion, compounded by the nation’s own destabilized position in the global economy, have led American game developers as well as medical professionals to pathologize gold farming as exclusionists had Chinese gambling: as symptomatic of an “Asian” psychosis that fails to respect normative boundaries between play and work, virtual and real world.
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