China Uses Prisoners to Farm Gold in World of Warcraft

Home » Retro Gaming » China Uses Prisoners to Farm Gold in World of Warcraft

The Guardian is reporting on a Chinese practice of having labor camp prisoners farm gold in World of Warcraft. After working in coal mines during the day, the prisoners would reportedly play Blizzard’s MMO at night to earn money. As a prisoner at the Jixi labor camp, Liu Dali, tells it:

Prisoners [were] forced to play online games 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.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” 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.”

Chinese prisons are notorious for their human rights abuses, but the exploitation of prisoners for online currency is something new. While the act itself of farming for gold is seemingly harmless, the punishment for failing to meet one’s daily quota was equivalent to torture.

“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.