Workin' on a Gold Farm...

Terra Nova has a forum excerpt quoted all about how one gold farmer ran his business in EverQuest. The author made over a hundred grand in his first year of operation, and eventually turned the enterprise into a company doing $800,000 in a year, which supported 16 employees--with health care coverage. (It's probably worth noting that none of his employees were Chinese). Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that most of his employees were husband and wife duos who actually supported families on their gold farming salaries.
My tax return for that year which has salary from 2 months of my job which I quit to make this my full time business, showed $150,623.78 after expenses. By this time I had made another character on another server and bought myself another computer and was playing on two. I killed guards in everfrost and sold the weapons to vendors and then bought items from players, or sold the platinum. That's the entirety of what I did to make that income.

Eventually the "article" shifts from a description of the running of the author's business into a discussion of how the in-game economy has become inflated and inbred beyond repair. I have played EverQuest for maybe a total of two hours in my life, so while I'm not familiar with some of the terms he uses, the principles are easy to understand. The closest analogue I have in my gaming career to the insane upward drive of the economy due to widespread farming and sale of currency is the Diablo II servers--and yes, I'm aware that Diablo II is not an MMO, but its player economy operates very much like one--when it got to the point where there was simply no hope of a new player participating in trade with established players without having to spend money on gold himself. It seems like a similar fate might be in store in the long term for World of Warcraft, which is apparently more conducive to gold farming than EverQuest. One thing I see working on WoW's favor, however, is that by virtue of its absolutely enormous playerbase, the number of casual players who have no interest in buying gold might keep the problem from becoming too large proportionally. Then again, that is only idle speculation; I am by no means any kind of MMO expert.