Chinese labour camps are said to be forcing prisoners to farm gold for westerners too lazy to do it themselves, torturing prisoners who do not earn enough, the time spent playing apparently not punishment enough.
The allegations were made by a former prison guard who was jailed and sent to a re-education camp for 3 years as punishment for complaining to the central government about local corruption.
In addition to the usual regime of punishing physical slave labour and communist brainwashing, he reports being forced to farm gold for sale to lazy westerners who cannot stomach the soul-destroying tedium of MMORPG gaming themselves:
“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour.
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 ($800-$900) a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”
He was tortured for not farming enough gold, he says:
“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.”
China, the world’s gold farm, has enacted legislation intended to regulate the trade in virtual currencies, but inexplicably nobody seems to take any notice of them.
As the pay and conditions (for the voluntarily employed at least) are said to be significantly better than slaving away in a mine, farm or factory, and western demand for help in bypassing meaningless timesinks is as strong as ever, it is hard to see the practice ending any time soon – save perhaps by the simple expedient of Blizzard selling gold and items straight to users.