Two Things That Blew My Mind on Monday

Thing 1: In this episode of the CBC radio show Search Engine, they discuss the tens of thou­sands of “Chinese gold farmers” who “play” online video games to generate virtual gold to sell to western gamers for real cash. They are crammed dozens to an apart­ment, rotating between the com­puters and the sleeping mats in 12 hour shifts, playing the same game, killing the same respawning monsters, all day every day. Apparently it’s a thing that they don’t wear shirts. I’d rather do repet­i­tive manual labour. What blew my mind was the researcher who claimed that in his inter­views, some of the farmers claimed that they spend their off-​​hours… playing the same video games. I guess it’s the world they relate to.

There’s also a doc­u­men­tary in pro­duc­tion about gold farmers, and a Cory Doctorow short story about a UK gamer who gets hired to raid online sweat­shops to steal their gold and gets co-​​opted by an online labour orga­nizer. And plenty of other exquis­itely weird aspects.

Thing 2: Apparently V.S. Ramachandran was inves­ti­gating the synes­thesia phe­nom­enon in which people expe­ri­ence certain colours in asso­ci­a­tion with certain numbers, and had the smarty-​​pants idea to find a colour-​​blind number-​​synesthete. Colour-​​blind people’s expe­ri­ence of colour is limited by low-​​performing retinas, but there isn’t anything wrong with the colour-​​interpreting parts of their brains so, what happens when they see the number-​​induced colours? Turns out they see those colours (and only those colours!) as intensely as a normal person can perceive normal colour. The synes­thete had the pet-​​term “martian colors” for them. Damn.

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