Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sex, drugs, and RMT

Prostitution is evil. Selling drugs is evil. Selling virtual currency (called real money trade or RMT) is evil. Some people live in a world of moral absolutes, which is most easily achieved by not thinking too closely about the issue. While there is a good argument to be made that the resignation of Eliot Spitzer over his prostitution affair is justified, it is harder to argue that the woman involved was evil. What if the man hadn't been married, and had paid for sex in a place where that wasn't illegal, would it still have been evil? And what about selling drugs? If I drive 2 hours from here in my car to the Netherlands I can visit a "coffee shop", which isn't selling coffee but cannabis totally legal. The guy selling the stuff is probably some old hippie, and there is no reason to consider him as evil.

On RMT I was a bit disappointed how the discussion about my recent gold-seller interview was limited to the question on whether one should talk about the subject at all or hush it up. The far more interesting question of the morality of it was pretty much ignored, because most people had a preformed opinion already and were unwilling to discuss in terms other than moral absolutes. So I'm asking again: Is gold-selling in itself evil? Or is it just the spamming, scamming, botting, and breaking of the EULA that is evil? Is somebody selling EQ2 currency on the SOE Station Exchange, where it is legal, still evil? Is somebody selling UO gold on EBay evil, again totally legal. What about virtual worlds without a game component, like Second Life, is selling virtual goods there evil? If selling gold isn't evil in games where it is allowed, then how "evil" is it to do it in a game where the EULA forbids it, compared to other intellectual property crimes like file-sharing? Does all virtual currency really belong to the game company, and do they have the right to tell you what you can do with it? You see, once you start digging a bit deeper, and to actually *think*, there is room for discussion about the morality of RMT.

I admit that the interview wasn't perfect. I didn't have access to the "Tobold's MMORPG Blog" company jet to fly over to the states and interview Chris Bottomly face-to-face. By sending him all my questions in one bunch I missed the opportunity to ask him further questions based on the answers he gave. And some people accused me of having been too soft, which was due to me not wanting to scare him off. But all is not lost: Chris is willing to answer more questions if you guys can come up with a couple of good ones. So this is your chance to learn more about the RMT business from inside: Simply post here in the comments section what question(s) you would have asked when interviewing a gold seller. Obviously if your question is downright insulting or delving too deeply into the commercial secrets of the company, Chris won't answer them. But if you thought that in principal it is okay to interview someone from the RMT industry and just would have liked a different set of questions, maybe together we can design the questions for a second interview. So, what would you ask him?

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