China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

May 26, 2011 -

According to a report in UK-based paper The Guardian, China has been using its prison population as slave labor.. in MMORPG's. According to the report, prisoners were put to work breaking rocks and digging trenches in in the coalmines of Northern China. By night prisoners would be forced to play MMORPG's to earn virtual currency, which guards would trade for real-world money.

One prisoner, who served three years at the Jixi labor camp for pointing out corruption in his hometown, described the conditions at the camp in startling detail. Liu Dali told the paper that prisoners were forced to play online games to enrich the guards of the prison. The 54-year-old was a former prison guard who made the mistake of "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown in 2004. Dali says that the online slave labor is probably more lucrative than the physical labor that prisoners are 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 a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

The camp is a re-education facility that uses hard labor to teach prisoners the error of their ways. Dali says that memories of his time there still haunt him. Other "activities" he and other prisoners were forced to take part in included carving chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw, and assembling car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He said that he was also made to memorize communist literature to pay off his debt to society.

But of all those activities, the online gaming was the most mentally taxing work. While the grind may have seemed fake or surreal to prisoners, falling behind in these virtual worlds brought real-world punishment.

"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.

It is estimated that 80 percent of all gold farmers are in China. While the central government issued a directive making it illegal for businesses without licenses to trade in 2009, Dali believes that the practice of using prisoners is still widespread because these places are run by the government.

"Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening," he said.

"China is the factory of virtual goods," said Jin Ge, a researcher from the University of California San Diego. "You would see some exploitation where employers would make workers play 12 hours a day. They would have no rest through the year. These are not just problems for this industry but they are general social problems. The pay is better than what they would get for working in a factory. It's very different."

"Prison labor is still very widespread – it's just that goods travel a much more complex route to come to the US these days. And it is not illegal to export prison goods to Europe," said Nicole Kempton from the Laogai foundation, a Washington-based group which opposes the forced labor camp system in China.

Liu Dali's name was changed to protect him from retaliation by prison officials and the government.

Source: The Guardian


Comments

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

I'm not anywhere near as surprised by this as I'd like to be.  In fact, this story explains a great deal.

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson'll justify it in the end." - nightwng2000

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, Jack Thompson'll justify it in the end." - nightwng2000

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

I won't lie. I lol'd.

Re: China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

There's an argument for not buying gold I can get behind, same as when you buy illegal drugs you support organized crime.

-Austin from Oregon

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Andrew EisenNot unless he's referring to a completely different set of Gamers Are Dead articles.07/31/2015 - 7:19pm
MattsworknameIT is possibel the articles aren't readily visable or no longer show up on the sites diretly, as over time they might have been shuffled around to get them outta teh spot lights07/31/2015 - 7:18pm
MattsworknameThe video proves otherwise andrew, the links to shaws research are in the articles themselves07/31/2015 - 7:17pm
RedMageAs someone who writes extensively himself, I can see when writing has been influenced by boiling anger from a mile away.07/31/2015 - 7:12pm
RedMageI also didn't see Leigh Alexander's original article as an attack on gamers; it was just poorly written. She'd likely had a terrible day and was projecting the activities of gaming's vicious fringe onto "gamers" collectively, however you describe that.07/31/2015 - 7:11pm
Andrew EisenI searched for the RPS article but the best I can find is a weekend wrapup article that links to Alexander and Golding's articles. That can't be it.07/31/2015 - 7:11pm
MattsworknameAlso, side note: Windows 10 upgrade appears to be a MUCH better platform then windows 8, testing on 3 seperate units, and it works great07/31/2015 - 7:07pm
Andrew EisenPolygon's "An awful week to care about video games" did not (unless you're referring to a different article) and I've never seen a RPS story on the Gamers Are Dead list.07/31/2015 - 7:06pm
MattsworknameSeveal directly linked to it, including polygon and rock paper shotgun07/31/2015 - 7:02pm
Andrew EisenHuh? Did any of the Gamers Are Dead articles other than Golding's even mention Shaw's study?07/31/2015 - 6:52pm
Mattsworknameso basicly, sargon showed that the whole spat of "Gamers are dead" article were based on lies and misinformation07/31/2015 - 6:39pm
Mattsworknamehow the articles themselves were not truly academic based, but agenda driven, as it they exsisted for idealogical purposes not backed up by the research they claimed supported them.07/31/2015 - 6:37pm
Mattsworknamegeneral, have no need or want of "Diveristy" according to shaws own research. He then went into the articles that cited it, including the origional, and showed that they argued things taht the actual research tthey quoted did NOT support, he lastly showed07/31/2015 - 6:36pm
MattsworknameAndrew: Sorry im so late in responding to your earlier question abonut sargons video, but basicly, he went through 3 phases. He first looked at the cited reasearch the articles used, by somone named shaw, and proved that the research shows that gamers, in07/31/2015 - 6:35pm
benohawk:( Well, that's crappy news James07/31/2015 - 6:29pm
james_fudgeRIP Roddy Piper :(07/31/2015 - 5:39pm
Andrew EisenI told Sega if it releases Yakuza 1&2 HD and Yakuza 5 in North America, I'll buy them. So far, they don't seem to be swayed.07/31/2015 - 5:11pm
Craig R.Too many gamers were harassing and abusing long before Baldwin decided to 'legitimize' the lunatic fringe, but that term certainly made the lunatics easier to pick out of the crowd07/31/2015 - 4:58pm
Craig R.Which is why the entire GG crowd looks like a giant bad egg07/31/2015 - 4:55pm
Craig R.Irony: the people who are feeling hostility toward their 'gamer' identity are often those who are most hostile to everybody else07/31/2015 - 4:55pm
 

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