For me, and I feel comfortable saying anyone reading this, WoW is a pleasurable past time. Sure, sometimes we get annoyed or aggravated with technical issues, low drop rates, etc. but for the most part, the game is fun. We in the gold making community often speak of gold farmers in an offhand way. To be blunt, we take advantage of them by buying the things they farm and sell by turning them into other things that sell for more money. A co-worker linked me an article today that bothers me to no end.
Read that and think about it for a minute. How would your perspective of the game change if it was something you were *forced* to do after a long day of back and soul-breaking labor? Not to play for fun, but as a second job, where your physical well-being might very well depend on someone buying YOUR stacks of items in the AH instead of someone else's.
I always envisioned the stereotypical "Chinese gold farmer" as somebody who came to an office, logged into an account, farmed, sold, etc. then went home to their families. Just like any 9-5 job. The fact that there are people out there being forced to do this under the threat of physical violence makes me sick.
In a way, we're responsible for them. The fact that those of us in other countries enjoy this game so much that we're willing to pay real money for virtual money makes it possible for these people to be exploited in such a fashion.
I've read articles about WoW and other games having real life consequences often, as have all of you. Marriages have broken up, friendships have ended, people have been killed over 1's and 0's.
I used to look forward to tells from random gold farmers. I took it as an opportunity to sharpen my wit and insults. I've said things to gold farmers that my grandmother would be ashamed of me to hear. I looked at them as people who took advantage of other's misfortune. I'm sure some of them were deserving. I'm sure not every gold farmer out there is a prisoner facing a beating if he doesn't meet his quota. But, what if? What if that guy sending you the tell to buy gold is only doing it because he's desperate, because he's fearful for his life if he doesn't move another 10k today?
I'm not saying go out and buy gold. That just perpetuates the cycle. I'm saying, the people on the other end are just that - people. Next time you get one of those tells, don't assume they're a predator of hacked accounts. The account they're using is probably hacked, sure, but that dude might be in a world of hurt you will hopefully never understand. I know I'll treat them differently from now on, and I hope you will as well.
Edit: I've since posted twice on Blizz's general Forums regarding this issue and they have removed both posts. In addition, someone else had posted a similar post and they removed that as well. I'm frankly disgusted at their lack of a response. I know not many read my post, but those that do, get the word out. Post on your own blogs, post on your guild forums. Blizz has a moral responsibility to address this and instead they are sticking their head in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist.