According to a study done by the tech financing group infoDev, online and virtual economies were worth around $3 billion as of 2009. The study titled “Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy” revealed that more than 100,000 workers in India and China make their livings through online gaming and micro-tasking.
Overseas employers run a fascinating service: gaming-service retail companies employ a staff of gamers to work for up to 60 hours a week playing massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). Gamers are employed to play games like World of Warcraft and amass virtual currency that the company then sells to wealthy foreigners. While this tactic is against the rules of many MMORPGs (World of Warcraft included), it is an appealing market for those who don’t have time to earn virtual currency for themselves.
The report states that there are over 100 online gaming services, and the implications of this virtual economy are significant. While China and India currently lead the way in this niche market, internet connected phones and devices are becoming incredibly popular across Africa. When these digital jobs inevitably find their way to African economies, the results should boost demand for the technology that creates them, generating new jobs and new wealth.