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Is it possible to get rich by hacking video games?

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News Tech: The realm of video game hacking remained cloaked in secret for a very long time. Up until Adrian, a security researcher, revealed his techniques.

As Manfred, he has spent more than 20 years hacking into video game code to find flaws and then sell the spoils.

Adrian, a Polish immigrant who grew up in the US, is better known in the hacker community by the alias “Manfred.”

When he sold a virtual asset in the 1997 game Ultima Online, Manfred first realised how profitable the world of online game purchases was.

Manfred might earn money by spending hours creating valuable digital objects, but he preferred to move more quickly. He could modify video games to deliver him profitable stuff at the stroke of a button by breaking into the game’s programming.

Manfred isn’t the only person who’s tried to make a living out of selling in-game items to other gamers. “You have to keep in mind that the vast majority of gamers are not interested in doing this,” Brendan Koerner, a cybersecurity journalist says.

“You have a very small subset who view this as a business and they realised pretty early on that there was a market for gamers who wanted to increase their capabilities within the game for fairly significant amounts of money,” Koerner says. With the game Runescape Online, Venezuela has one of the largest markets for in-game purchases.

Because Runescape Online can be played on computers with outdated hardware, it has gained popularity in underdeveloped nations, where many Venezuelans have turned to farming and selling in order to make a living. “The in-game currency is more stable than the Venezuelan fiat currency is,” Manfred says. “They use the Runescape currency to pay for their bills or buy a loaf of bread and do daily transactions.”

Manfred notes how increasingly companies started to act against hackers like him. Not only were they shutting down selling accounts, but more and more games also started selling items directly to the players. “Which was the same thing I was doing,” Manfred says. “That’s when I backed out,” Manfred says.

If the game company doesn’t like an account that’s selling items, it can ban the player and boot them from the game. But with people relying on games for their income, their lives are at risk if the game company decides to act against them.

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