Venezuelans Turn to Bitcoin and Online Gaming to Survive


Citizens of Venezuela have turned to Bitcoin and gold farming in online games to survive the country’s economic collapse.


It’s been a hellish couple of years for the people of Venezuela. The socialist policies of President Nicolás Maduro have wreaked incredible devastation upon the country’s previously strong economy. People are turning to unorthodox means in order to stay alive, and the latest means to help keep food on the table is Bitcoin and online gaming.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

The current situation in Venezuela is dire. The economy is in ruins, and the country’s currency, the bolivar, is essentially worthless. The most basic necessities, such as food and medicine, are non-existent. During the course of 2017, the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds, and 90 percent of the population fell into poverty.

The situation has not improved in 2018. Starving people have taken to killing and eating zoo animals. The Bloomberg Cafe Con Leche Index shows that the price of a single cup of coffee now costs 70 bolivars (or the equivalent of 7 million old bolivars as the government has lopped off five zeroes). This price of either 70 or 7 million bolivars is worth roughly 50 cents and shows an annual inflation rate of 127,173 percent.

The government is now mandating that citizens have to buy passports with the Petro, the country’s national cryptocurrency which is supposed to be released on November 5th. While Reuters recently reported that they found no signs that the Petro actually exists, the reality is that most people are stuck. Which is why they are turning to Bitcoin and online gaming to make ends meet.

Gold Farming for Bitcoin

When people are desperate, they will find a way to survive. Venezuelans are turning to the world of online gaming and gold farming to make some money to keep starvation at bay.

Online games like Runescape and Tibia are popular choices for Venezuelans for their gold farming. The practice of gold farming is when a player in a massively multiplayer online game (or MMO) spends their time harvesting in-game assets, such as gold or items. These assets are then sold on a secondary market to other players for fiat, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies.

The average money earned only amounts to a few dollars per day, but it’s enough to make a huge difference. The money made by gold farming is tied to the black market exchange rate, which actually results in gold farmers making more money than salaried workers.

The sheer number of Venezuelans playing Runescape and other online games has not escaped notice. The in-game economy of Runescape is actually experiencing inflation due to the activity of Venezuelans.

There is a risk as well to gold farming. Such practices are not allowed in the game, so users can face having their accounts closed if they are caught. However, the alternative is literal starvation, so you can expect Venezuelans to continue gold farming. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Bitcoin and online gaming can make the difference between living or dying, but such is the case in Venezuela.

What do you think about the people of Venezuela using cryptocurrency and online gaming to put food in their bellies? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and YouTube/@Runescape.

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