Gamer sues gold farmers

World of Warcraft veteran player files suit against IGE, claiming the company is polluting the game environment for everyone.

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More bad tidings for gold farmers in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft: Not only is one organisation getting its knuckles rapped by operator Blizzard for spamming, now another is being sued by a player, reports online gaming magazine The Escapist.

Gold-farming company IGE, based in Hong Kong, has been targeted by longtime WOW player Antonio Hernandez, who has hired a lawyer to go after the company that, he says, "made a calculated decision to reap substantial profits by knowingly interfering with and substantially impairing the intended use and enjoyment [of the game]."

The class-action complaint lists a number of reasons that gold-farming is detrimental to the game, including stripping the world of limited resources and materials so other players find them impossible to get hold of, devaluation of the game's currency, chat spamming, and junk mail.

IGE sells virtual gold for real-world money for a number of online games, including World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, EverQuest II, and Lord of the Rings Online. It was founded in 2001 by "consummate gamers" to buy and sell in-game items and gold. On its Web site, it states, "Gamers see the secondary market as yet another exciting dimension of the MMOG experience. It not only gives players the advantage of greater flexibility so they can focus on aspects of the game they most enjoy, but it also allows players to receive real-world value for the effort and time they have invested in their games."

The attorney representing Hernandez in the case, Richard Newsome, told The Escapist, "Guys like Tony [Hernandez, the plaintiff] have paid their $15 for some entertainment, and IGE is polluting that entertainment. It's kind of like, if someone pays for a ticket to go see a movie, and if someone else comes in behind them and kicks their seat, you can get them to stop doing that."

Newsome stated that he believes that he can win the case--even though gold-farming companies have not so far ended up in court--as the suit was not unlike other consumer protection law cases, which had already been brought to court in a variety of areas successfully.

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