Friday, May 27, 2011

Online Gaming, a Modest Proposal

Apparently Chinese prisons are taking “grinding” to a whole new level.

According to an article in the UK daily Guardian Wednesday:
As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games [mostly World of Warcraft according to another report. – ed.] to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off...
"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," he said.
I personally dislike in great heaping buckets all those online gaming beasts with their ungainly “M” starting acronyms—for me it's a sitting for hours at a blinking screen kinda thing—but...but...

I am at a loss for words for something that reads more like Swift's satire than a stone-cold, tangible-real outcome of a corner of the gaming industry.


  1. The only way they are earning 500 or so pounds a day is through Identity theft. There is simply no way to farm enough gold or items on WoW to earn that much every day, perhaps a tenth of that, maybe. But each WoW server has a maximum density of players and the number willing to spend money on gold or items is limited as is what a single character can accumulate in a 24 hour period of conitnuous gaming. Now once someone is foolish enough to use credit card info to purchase these items, then the earning potential in fraud and theft goes up exponetially.

  2. Perhaps they earn it by spreading around the play to other games?

    Your suspicions are likely right though.

  3. A terrible price to pay. No person deserves to play WoW for that long, no one.

  4. I believe the earning potential indicated here is that of the guards, who obviously can take advantage of the large number of prisoners doing the gold farming for them. It would be possible to farm that much money if multiple prisoners were contributing to one guard's pocket.

  5. I've viewed this story with mild skepticism every time I've encountered it. As China made Real Money Transactions for gaming money or items illegal countrywide a few years back, a scam like this seems an unacceptable level of risk for a guard considering a single prisoner getting the word out sours the whole deal.