[Gold farming](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_farming) in MMORPGs is a trendy topic, so there are countless superficial articles about it. This is a partial attempt to sift out the drivel, and summarise the real information. I doubt I’ll do this regularly, but maybe I’ll try to revisit it now and again.
PhD Student Ge Jin has [filmed](http://youtube.com/watch?v=ho5Yxe6UVv4) several Chinese sweatshops. It’s been discussed everywhere, most interestingly at [Terra Nova](http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2006/03/disembodiment_h.html)
PC Gamer has [refused](http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/business/technology/14018209.htm) to carry ads from real-world traders like IGE:
“PC Gamer’s official stance on these types of companies is that they are despicable: Not only do they brazenly break many MMOs’ End-User License Agreements (EULA), but they all too often ruin legitimate players’ fun. As a company, we have agreed to turn down what literally amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual ad revenue so that you, as a reader, can game easy knowing that we’ve got your back.”
In Gamestudy there is an [interview](http://gamestudy.org/eblog/?p=34) with a Korean gold farmer, translated from a Korean gaming magazine. Interesting points: the confirmation that “hacking tools tuned for a specific game make it possible to handle incredibly many accounts/characters per worker”, and the discussion of how Korean shops are mostly priced out of the market. I’m not surprised; comments elsewhere have claimed that gold farmers are even being priced out of Beijing, so how they could survive in a city as expensive as Seoul is beyond me. He also says that almost all sweatshop characters are automated. I wonder how true this is beyond Lineage; presumably the mechanics of each game will determine whether it’s worth a real person running a character.
Meanwhile, games have been cracking down on the gold farmers in public: RuneScape have [adjusted their game mechanics](http://news.runescape.com/lang/en/aff/runescape/newsitem.ws?id=571) to reduce one common way for farmers to profit. They also claim that “
Over the last few weeks we have banned literally hundreds of accounts a day for macroing at the rune essence mine
“. Earlier Blizzard too banned or suspended some 15,000 players for “