Special Topics In Gameology: How World Of Warcraft lets players put a price on their time

Special Topics In Gameology explores a specific corner of the gaming world in a miniseries of articles. The current theme is commerce, in which we examine games’ representation and use of business and trade.

In Azeroth, the setting of Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft, goblins are the ugly face of capitalism. They’re willing to take any gambit if it’ll make a profit with little regard for their own survival and about as much consideration of the environment as a Captain Planet villain. Spend any time interacting with them at the banks and businesses they run and they’ll happily share their defining philosophy: “Time is money, friend.”

Blizzard used that tagline in April when it introduced the WOW Token and gave its estimated 5 million subscribers a way to buy, with real money, a digital manifestation of one month’s worth of game time that they could sell …

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