WOW Is More Than a Virtual Prison for Some - The UpStream

WOW Is More Than a Virtual Prison for Some

posted Sunday May 29, 2011 by Jon Wurm

WOW Is More Than a Virtual Prison for Some

Here is some confirmation on what WOW players have known all along. Gold farming has plagued the economies of countless servers causing inflation of goods and services as well as tempers. It's bad enough when a real player ninja loots you or steals your kill but when a gold farmer does it... that's enough to send you off the deep end. Ironically, it might be the reason they go off the deep end as well.

When most WOW players think of gold farmers, they tend to think they are paranoid shut-ins that get off on exploiting video games from their own free will and are compensated monetarily for their unjust efforts. Many Chinese gold farmers are not that lucky according to Liu Dali who used to be a prisoner at Jixi labor camp located in northeast China.

Basically, in some prisons, the guards are forcing prisoners to play MMOs like WOW to farm gold which they then sell for a profit. The way it worked at Jixi was the prisoners would work doing manual labor during the day then play these games in 12 hour shifts at night. Each prisoner had a quota and were physically beaten with plastic pipes if they failed to attain it.

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.

The guards would make around $930 USD a day and the prisoners would make $0 with potential benefits of not being beaten. Details on other benefits were not available but at least they are allowed to take breaks outside in the rock yards for some physical stimulation before going back at it. I'm not saying this is OK but I am not surprised. There seems to be a reoccurring theme of exploitation in China that leads me to believe many people there are more or less prisoners anyway. Foxconn is just one other example. I will say that I don't agree with their exploitation but a full discussion of the ethics involved goes beyond the scope of this article.

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