Chinese Prisoners Forced to Farm MMO Gold by night

Posted by Grey Friday, May 27, 2011

Doing hard time in China's Jixi prison labor camp takes on a bold new level of hardship.

This is quite possibly the most ridiculous "sad but true" tale we have heard in a while. The above image is not a picture of a Chinese Prison, but is in fact a castle depicted in Blizzard's MMO sensation, World of Warcraft. However, through some insane twist of fate, they might just represent the same thing for prisoners doing time in China's Jixi prison labor camp, according to this report from Guardian.co.uk.

Liu Dali, 54-year-old, was a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown. While doing time at Chin's Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province, Liu went through daily hard work from breaking rocks and digging trenches in the day, to slaying dragons, undead, and numerous other demons you can come up with in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) in the night.

"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 [£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,"

Among all the backbreaking hardship Liu endured at the prison, it was the forced online gaming that haunted him most. That's saying a lot, given his other daily tasks included breaking rocks, digging trenches, carving chopsticks and toothpicks out of plank of woods, assembling car seat covers to be exported to South Korea and Japan, as well as memorizing communist literature to "pay off his debt to society".

Prison official at the central office for labour camps in Heilongjiang have expectedly denied that such activities took place, according to this report from telegraph.co.uk.

“We do not allow our inmates to do high-risk occupations, such as coal-mining. We do not have large numbers of computers. And we do not allow our prisoners to have any contact with the outside world. If they were playing these online games they could easily communicate with other people. We would never allow that.”

While gold-farming sweat shops in China aren't really news by now, gold-farming prison is as surreal as they come in the dystopic pre-apocalyptic present. In the same report by Guardian.co.uk, billions in revenue have been generated from China's virtual gold trade, which was estimated to be holding 80% of the world's gold farming population.

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