An anonymous reader writes "This weekend's New York Times Magazine puts a human face to the 'gold farming' profession. Virtual world economist Julian Dibbell travels to Nanjing, China, for a look at the working conditions and first-hand experience of farming gold from virtual monsters as a way to make a living. From the article: 'At the end of each shift, Li reports the night's haul to his supervisor, and at the end of the week, he, like his nine co-workers, will be paid in full. For every 100 gold coins he gathers, Li makes 10 yuan, or about $1.25, earning an effective wage of 30 cents an hour, more or less. The boss, in turn, receives $3 or more when he sells those same coins to an online retailer, who will sell them to the final customer (an American or European player) for as much as $20. The small commercial space Li and his colleagues work in -- two rooms, one for the workers and another for the supervisor -- along with a rudimentary workers' dorm, a half-hour's bus ride away, are the entire physical plant of this modest $80,000-a-year business.'"