Chinese prison guards have found an ingenious way of making money. It’s too bad that it involved using prisoners.
It is common for prisoners in Chinese forced-labor camps to crack rocks, dig ditches and remove debris. But, according to recently released Liu Dali who served a three-year imprisonment in a labor camp, this was not everything that the prisoners were forced to do. The former Chinese inmate says that prison guards made him and a few hundred of his fellow prisoners play online games such as World of Warcraft after day-time physical labor to gain money.
And after prisoners spent night earning virtual cash, guards would then exchange it for real money and use it for their own means. According to Dali, the prisoners earned about $1,000 for their guards each day and never received a single dollar. Moreover, there were quotas set for the inmates. A violent beating would follow if a prisoner did not meet it.
The practice of using multiple people to play a game to earn in-game goods and later selling them to other players in the real world is called ‘gold farming’. And though this practice is regarded as controversial within gaming communities, violates licensing agreements with game manufacturers and is banned in China, it is still a problem in this highly populated country.
However, the Chinese government denies all accusations, saying that playing World of Warcraft would mean communication with the outside world and it is improbable that inmates would ever be allowed to do this.