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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