Playbor: Who is paid in play money, and who keeps the conventional rewards?

She could end up earning 11 percent less than her male colleagues. Image from EVE Online by zcar.300.

Digital technology has uneven impacts on global economic inequalities, but it also has uneven impacts on different sociodemographic segments within countries. I recently published a paper on virtual gender gaps (with colleagues from MSU and USC), and now did a Q&A on the topic at the Policy & Internet blog:

Previously, ICT adoption resulted in some people’s jobs being eliminated and others being enhanced. This shift had uneven impacts on men’s and women’s jobs. Today, we are seeing an Internet-fuelled “volunterization” of some types of work — moving the work from paid employees and contractors to crowds and fans compensated with points, likes, and badges rather than money. Social researchers should keep track of how this shift impacts different social categories like men and women: whose work ends up being compensated in play money, and who gets to keep the conventional rewards.

Read the full Q&A here, and download a preprint of the paper:

Lehdonvirta, V., Ratan, R. A., Kennedy, T. L., and Williams, D. (2014) Pink and Blue Pixel$: Gender and Economic Disparity in Two Massive Online Games. The Information Society 30 (4) 243-255.

Vili Lehdonvirta

Vili Lehdonvirta is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is an economic sociologist with a background in computer science.