Venezuela is in the midst of an economic collapse. What was once the wealthiest major economy in Latin America is now suffering from shortages of essential goods like food and electricity, as well as spikes in crime and unemployment. To put dinner on the table, many are turning to unconventional jobs. Like gold farming. In an MMO from 2001.
Gold farming, generally speaking, is the practice of grinding in a game specifically for the purpose of generating in-game currency or other content to be exchanged for real-world money. While it's prohibited by Runescape's rules, it's also a relatively safe and comfortable job in a place where one's safety is by no means guaranteed.
"I gold farm mostly for the raw benefits of it," a player who goes by the handle Fhynal told me via DMs. "I don't have to go out. That may sound strange, but we live with a lot of crime. If you want to go out, you have to use a bus, [which increases your] propensity to be robbed."
Fhynal said he earns around 200,000-250,000 Venezuelan Bolivares, or approximately $US15-$US20 ($19-$26), per week. This adds up to "double, sometimes triple" the average monthly salary in Venezuela, he said, even factoring in the occasional week that he takes off to keep a "low profile" and avoid getting caught.