Gold Farming in World of Warcraft

In one of my courses, we learned about the different methods that some users take in racially profiling other players in the online game World of Warcraft. It is an interesting concept, because you’re thinking about reproducing racial stereotypes and structures into a completely fabricated world – where the point is to seemingly become a character unlike yourself in a world wildly different to the one we live in. However, this hasn’t stopped players from releasing their prejudices onto a makeshift reality as well. 

Players considered “virtual immigrants” are known to play on different servers while attempting to sell things to other online players in exchange for real-world currency. These players, known more widely as “gold farmers” have been highly contested in terms of their intentions in playing World of Warcraft. Many players believe that they shouldn’t be considered valid participants in the online role-playing game since they’re making a profit, and this argument often takes a racialized turn. To elucidate, many of these ‘gold farmers’ are using this method of making money as their full-time employment approach, and these workers are typically people residing in economically developing countries. Due to this, when players are able to deduce which players are participating to make money, they begin throwing around some offensive and racist language to deter these players from continuing. 

There is a massive online community that speaks against World of Warcraft gold farmers, which (as mentioned previously) are racially motivated. Even the term ‘gold farmer’ is offensive and demeaning seeing as they are just working to make a living, and are pretty good at it too. “This development has not been universally welcomed. In the eyes of many gamers, in fact, real-money trading is essentially a scam.” … “ome players, and quite a few game designers, see the problem in more systemic terms. Real-money trading harms the game, they argue, because the overheated productivity of gold farms and other profit-seeking operations makes it harder for beginning players to get ahead.” (Dibbell 2007). These arguments beg the question of whether people are trying to deter these players from continuing because of a fairness logic, or because of their ingrained radicalized motivations.


Dibbell, Julian. “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer.” The New York Times Magazine. (2007). 

Nakamura, Lisa. “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game: The Racialization of Labor in World of Warcraft.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 26, no. 2 (2009),