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Dark Gold: Statistical Properties of Clandestine Networks in Massively Multiplayer Online Games

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5 Author(s)
Keegan, B. ; Sch. of Commun., Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL, USA ; Ahmed, M.A. ; Williams, D. ; Srivastava, J.
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Gold farming is a set of illicit practices in which players in massively multiplayer online games gather and distribute virtual goods for real money. Using anonymized data from a popular online game to construct networks of characters involved in gold farming, we examine the trade networks of gold farmers, their trading affiliates, and uninvolved characters at large. Our analysis of these complex networks' connectivity, assortativity, and attack tolerance indicate that farmers exhibit distinctive behavioral signatures which are masked by brokering affiliates. Our findings are compared against a real world drug trafficking network and suggest similarities in both organizations' network structures which reflect similar effects of secrecy, resilience, and efficiency.

Published in:

Social Computing (SocialCom), 2010 IEEE Second International Conference on

Date of Conference:

20-22 Aug. 2010