Chinese labor camp prisoners forced to gold farm

Detainee tells the <i>Guardian</i> that physical punishment would be inflicted if quota not met.


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Gold farming may be looked down upon in the world of massively multiplayer online games, but players cannot deny its existence (or its prevalence). A labor camp in Jixi, China has taken the practice of gold farming even further by reportedly forcing its prisoners to work in actual coal mines by day and farm for gold in online games at night. An article in The Guardian has detailed the story of a prisoner in the camp by the pseudonym of Liu Dali, who talked about his ordeal.

Prisoners of the camp had to farm for gold at night from online games.
Prisoners of the camp had to farm for gold at night from online games.

Dali, who was a former prison guard, stated that "if [I] couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air, and after I returned to my dormitory, they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things."

This particular operation was much more lucrative than the work the prisoners did in the coal mines. "Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor." He said that a prisoner could earn between 5,000 to 6,000 rmb ($770 to $925), with the money kept by prison officials. Dali added that "many prisons across the northeast of China also forced inmates to play games."

Gold farming is the act of acquiring in-game currency in an massively multiplayer online role-playing game and selling it to a customer for a price, usually against the wishes of the game's operator. A 2008 report on the virtual economy of online games from the University of Manchester stated that about 80 percent of all gold farmers are from China.

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