Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
01 February 2006
Fascination with Powerleveling
I play World of Warcraft. My character's level 50 out of 60. I started playing in the middle of March last year. It's taken me a while.

There are services called "powerleveling" services, like this one, that'll get rid of all the low-level tedium and smack you up from level 1 to level 60 for, in this case, the cheap price of $300 and a 21 day wait. That's pretty fast.

I'm not about to shell out any dough, as I enjoy playing the game. I have fun in spite of my guild making fun of me with regularity for my slow progress to 60, where you can finally start contributing to "dungeon crawls" with your guild's other level 60s. I have fun in spite of spending hours holding down my middle mouse key to make my character run (now ride [a tiger, no less]) from one virtual city to the next dungeon to the next city to...

And this enjoyment is part of why I wonder about academics who say that the people who do this powerleveling work in sweatshops. I mean, sure, I bet the levelers work awfully long days doing these sorts of things, but I'm freakin' payin' people to let me do it. I wonder if it isn't the same sort of quandary I experience when I hear professional atheletes, in my case particularly NBA players, talking about taking their lunch pail to work and not getting paid a fair wage.

Do we really know all powerlevelers hate their job? They aren't mining coal or threading jeans for 16 hours a day, exactly. If I could make just under a living wage playing WoW, would I? If it were the best paying job I could find and the hours and working conditions were analogous to other jobs, wouldn't I? There's the fellow whose got the motherboard named after him -- I forget the name now -- who I suppose is sort of the Michael Jordan of first-person shooters. Can't I put these powerlevelers on some sort of spectrum with this guy? Have you ever been to a semi-pro basketball or football game? The conditions aren't totally without analogy.

What I'd really like to do is hire a powerleveler and follow him/her around. How do they play? Looking through the description is absolutely fascinating. Here are some quotes:

We don't just provide you with a bare bones leveling service. You will receive the benefits of the way we level your character, and everything we leave on it.

I take this to mean some powerleveling services get you to level 60, but then likely take all the gold and items and sell them to other customers, leaving your 60er bare. Makes sense. I have a hard enough time figuring out which items to keep and which to sell as is -- I wonder how this works with true professionals? Do they pump up the level 1 character with coins, bags to hold items you usually wouldn't get until level 40 or so, etc? How much do they subsidize the production of new characters?

We do not use hacks, bugs or exploits whatsoever. All leveling is done in the best and most legitimate way; the old fashioned way.

Assuming this is true, I'm only more interested to watch these people to learn how I should be playing.

We Will Never:
Talk to random players in game
Participate in Dishonorable PvP kills
Hoard farming locations
Sell any gear or gold already on your account

"Random players"? Hrm -- so they do communicate. Do they travel in parties with other characters being powerleveled/coworkers? Do they recruit "real," conventional players? I assume usually the former. Why haven't I ever seen any groups of these professionals? Why don't other players broadcast when they see a powerleveling group? Could you tell?

Another item sold at this site:
*Account with 1800 Gold* Level 60 Female Night Elf Rogue with Mount, Great Gear, and Mastered Lockpicking and Poisons!!!

Pretty interesting -- if business is slow, just level the heck out of some new character anyway! Transferring the account must be a bit of pain, but I'm betting that elf is helping other powerlevelers level low-levels right now. Though Blizzard doesn't terminate accounts for inactivity, apparently, I can't imagine a 1-60 in three weeks that goes dormant until the account is transferred can do much other than arouse suspicion.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but the powerleveling concept as job (and the subset of powerleveling as sweatshop) is horribly intriguing to me.
--ruffin at 11:26
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

This sounds like an opportunity ripe for undercover, or at least tell-all, reporting. Get someone to visit such a shop, or become a player for a month or two, and then write about the experience from the inside.

Too bad it'll probably be done by a real outfit like 60 Minutes before it's done by the so-called gaming media.

By Blogger jvm, at 01 February, 2006 20:45  

60 Minutes would only do it after some kind of connected legal or political issue, like a claimed game-related murder or perhaps the IRS deciding to tax virtual world incomes.

By Anonymous Baines, at 01 February, 2006 21:08  

"Do we really know all powerlevelers hate their job?"

Oh man, there are pictures of these people and interviews with them, so yes, the photos that were seen are real, and yes most of these people are being treated like shit and getting paid pennies whilst the higher ups get more.

By Anonymous zachary, at 01 February, 2006 23:38  

URLs please, zakk. Yes, I'm too lazy to google at this hour.

By Blogger jvm, at 01 February, 2006 23:50  

I'm getting the video game media & watch on your ass for not investigating those urls on your own!

By Anonymous zachary, at 04 February, 2006 01:58  

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