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CNN.com Examines How Virtual Currency Powers Social Networks and Online Gaming

Posted Wed, May 20, 2009 by Martuk

Virtual currency can make your character powerful, provide them ways to gain houses, items and other in-game perks. This currency has become highly sought after and many gamers play to earn their keep, but there are those willing to pay real world money to gain access to a virtual item. This is not only prevalent in Online Gaming, but also in social network hubs such as MyYearBook and other currencies vying for control of MySpace and Facebook.

Virtual economies suffer from many of the things that afflict the real world economy and in many cases, game developers will hire an economist to assist with maintaining their virtual economic stability. However, many things can impact these economies such as gold farmers, fraud and so on.

In "World of Warcraft," players earn WoW Gold as they advance through the game. The currency has become so sought-after that it is bought and sold on a black market, experts said.

Low-wage workers in China are known to play the game for a living and then sell the virtual currency they earn to avid "World of Warcraft" players in the West. This despite the fact that the game's maker prohibits such activities.

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