Two nights ago, I had the chance to have a fascinating chat with a Chinese Civil Engineering student that attends Hunan University. I always like to ask the farmers I see in the game if they are farmers. This dude actually wrote back, and he had good English. I was so happy!
Unfortunately, this farmer only earns about 800 RMB ($96) per month playing 7-12 hours per day. He said he was unhappy. He said his friend told him about the job. Man, that's some pretty shitty money.
Regardless, I am quite fascinated by this notion of turning virtual resources (gold and items in World of Warcraft) into real money. There are companies overseas, mostly in Asia, that pay game players to play these games and "farm" in-game currency by killing monsters and selling items looted from these monsters. It's amazing because the impact this has on the game is immeasurable. Also, the impact this has on small economies is immeasurable. If I was a student of economics, pursuing a PhD, I'd love for this very topic to be the subject of my dissertation.