"Atanarjuat" is the Inuit word for “Fast Runner” and is also the name of a young gnome in WoW. Like all gnomes, young Atanarjuat, or "Atan" as she likes to be called, was born in the dwarven newbie arena called Coldridge Valley, but she had an urge to travel—perhaps it was because of her name.
Last night, immediately after being brought into this world, she decided to go for a run. As fast as her little legs would carry her she motored through the Dwarven enclaves of Dun Morogh and Loch Modan. This wasn’t a challenge, as the beasts here were slow and relatively uninterested in her. She passed through the mountains and Dun Algaz, which took a few resurrections because the humanoids camp the entrances and exits, but eventually she entered the Wetlands. Amazingly, she made it through these without being targeted--she said a quick prayer of thanks to the gods of Gnomeregan--and she hopped on the boat from Menethil Harbor to Theramore Isle. Once she left the stronghold there, things became trickier. She was still at level 1 at this point, and so the difference between her level and the level of the beasts around her meant that she drew aggro like Texas Republicans draw prosecutorial investigations. Luckily she met a very nice high-level dwarf who offered to escort her. (He noticed her level and commented that she was in the wrong part of town. Like Blanche Dubois, she wasn’t too proud to rely on the kindness of strangers) He said he’d escort her down through Dustwallow Marsh and the Thousand Needles to her destination. What seemed plausible when looking at the map got very old very fast: after the 20th or 30th resurrection both were starting to get sick of this, and the dragonkin just weren’t budging. So they took the easy option and swam to Tanaris, skirting the coast, entering at Steamwheedle Bay and from there to her destination at Gadgetzan. She was glad to be there at last, but a little disappointed that she had gained so much xp from the trip that she had gone from level 1 to level 2. And of course she was tired from her journey and not in much of a mood to answer the oft-asked question: What the hell is a level 2 gnome doing in Gadgetzan?
When I was young and impressionable I saw the Adrian Lyne movie “9 1/2 Weeks”. I remember being affected not only by the sex scenes (oh to be an icecube…) but also by the dress and profession of Mickey Rourke’s character. I may be remembering it wrong but I seem to recall that Kim Basinger’s character opened his wardrobe to find (scary!) row after row of identical black suits, at the same time as she found out that he was something that I’d never heard of before: an arbitrageur.
As I know now, and you all have known for ages, arbitrage is the practice of exploiting the difference between two markets in identical or exchangable commodities or assets, and an arbitrageur is someone who engages in arbitrage. Atan is my experiment in creating a new profession in WoW, that of "mule-arbitrageur".[fn1] She is an experiment in arbitrage between the WoW internal markets for the Horde and Alliance factions. The economies for these factions are different, and so the price of a brace of, say, [Small Lustrous Pearl], may differ between the economies. Now, it’s not totally trivial to exploit this arbitrage possibility. As you also all know, Horde and Alliance can’t chat, can’t group and can’t mail each other. But the point of connection, at least in trade, is the neutral market run by the Goblin cartel in Gadgetzan. Since I now have an Alliance mule in Ironforge and one in Gadgetzan, it is now a simple matter to explore arbitrage possibilities. I’ll report on this experiment in due course.[fn2]
But, as usual, I wanted to ask you all for your advice and thoughts. This time on arbitrage. A couple of students of mine established last year that arbitrage possibilities can be exploited in Final Fantasy XI and wrote up a nice paper on it. And I now know it’s possible in WoW (though I don’t yet have a handle on the scale of the possibility). What other arbitrage possibilities have you noticed, in WoW or other games? Are there virtual arbitrageurs out there, and if so on what scale? Oh, and what commodities should I be trading in to get the best arbitrage spread in WoW?
And, if you like, this is an appropriate forum to recount your stupidest noob-run story as well.
fn1: Or "mule-arbitrageuse" for the French purists out there.
fn2: For those who are wondering why I didn’t just gryphon a lvl 60 Alliance toon down to Gadgetzan, well, where would be the fun in that?