Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Chinese Hard Labour, Not So Hard.

Who would have thought that virtual mining would be more lucrative than actual mining.
Prisoners at the Jixi labor camp are being forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards will then trade for real money.

Prison bosses make more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing them to do manual labor. There are 300 prisoners forced to play games. They worked 12-hour shifts with the computers never being turned off. The prison bosses could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-£570] a day.

If the inmates can't complete their work quota, they would be punished physically. They would make them stand with their hands raised in the air and after returning to their dormitories the inmates would be beaten with plastic pipes.

This is known as "gold farming", the practice of building up credits and online value through the monotonous repetition of basic tasks in online games such as World of Warcraft. Millions of gamers are willing to pay real money for such in-game credits, which they can use to progress in the online games faster than doing the mining themselves.
Trading of virtual currencies in multiplayer games has become so rampant in China that it is increasingly difficult to regulate. In April, the Sichuan provincial government in central China launched a court case against a gamer who stole credits online worth about 3000rmb.
The lack of regulations has meant that even prisoners can be exploited in this virtual world for profit.
It is estimated that 80% of all gold farmers are in China and with the largest internet population in the world there are thought to be 100,000 full-time gold farmers in the country.
In 2009 the central government issued a directive defining how fictional currencies could be traded, making it illegal for businesses without licenses to trade.

[Full Article]

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