Chinese prisoners forced to farm MMOs for cash

Doing hard time in China may result in more than just back-breaking labor -- you may be called upon to join the country's growing legion of gold farmers as well.

A report at Guardian.co.uk exposed an unusual side of Chinese prisons, painting a picture of gaming inmates who had to meet farming quotas in MMOs or be beaten. One prisoner said that this practice was more lucrative for the prisons than other products of forced labor:
"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."
However, prison officials denied that such activities took place. One official commented, "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."

Billions in revenue have resulted from China's virtual gold trade, which is largely unregulated. Guardian.co.uk estimates that the country holds 80% of the world's gold farming population.

This article was originally published on Massively.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.