Being a prisoner in China really seems like it would suck. Liu Dali, a (pseudonymous) former prisoner, was jailed for "illegally petitioning" the government about corruption, and sentenced to three years in a hard labor camp. During the day, according to The Guardian, he worked 12-hour shifts in a coal mine, and at night, he was forced to farm virtual gold online, which would be sold by the prison guards for a huge profit.
In games like World of Warcraft, gamers can virtually "farm gold", which essentially means playing in a tedious and repetitive way to score some in-game currency--it might mean fighting the same bad guy over and over again, or completing a small task a few thousand times. Players (or, in this case, slavedrivers) actually sell that virtual gold for real-life currency, usually to people in developed countries who want a better character but don't feel like arduously spending days leveling up, and would rather just pay for the stats. Apparently, the guards at Liu's prison realized that they could make even more money forcing prisoners to farm gold than by forcing them to perform manual labor. The 300 prisoners forced to farm gold could earn their guards up to $1,000 per day, not that the prisoners ever saw a single yuan of it.
This kind of forced virtual labor seems like a not uncommon occurrence; anywhere there are lots of people compelled to do manual labor and a way to make money doing it, these kinds of situations will arise. There are virtual sweatshops in which workers must play for 12 hours a day, though accusations of prison virtual labor is new. China has made minor efforts to regulate the trade in virtual goods, but there are still thought to be around 100,000 full-time gold farmers in the country.
[via The Guardian]
I wonder what use the "minor efforts" are in regulating virtual goods if almost respectable MMO (or at least any that are worth buying currency for) ban RMT (real money trading) and are very clear about it.
Is there anything companies can do against the Chinese government openly violating the ToS?
Some newer MMO's are simply banning all IP's originating from China because they rather would not deal with the headache.
While this makes for compelling reading, I'm rather surprised by the widespread coverage, or re-posting, given that everything revolves around believing the words of an ex-convict.
Think of it this way. A company can take advantage of those "gold farmers" by letting foreign prisons do this to produce more income for the particular game. CCP allows users to trade real money for in-game characters. Its a good way to for people to get what they want and for big company's to gain an even bigger profit.
Doing that ruins the point of the game; which is earning a character comparable to others. Its tantamount to a cheat-code. Meanwhile the large gold influx ruins in-game markets, and overall reduces the quality of the game for those who play acording to the contractual agreement.
In short, it is illegal, and it is not a victimless-crime. People that do this are greedy and have a complete disregard for others (if that wasn't aparent).
World governments can't even get China to budge, let anlone game companies. As for the 'minor efforts', as far as I know China has made gold-farming illegal but as long as the Communist Party is the one breaking the law, it's ok.
He's hardly an 'ex-con' by normal standards in the developed world. He was thrown in prison for three years for starting a petition to fight corruption in his home town. I for one would beleive the says over the Chinese government any day.
Why don't our prisons do this? 300 prisoners = $1000 per day. We have ~ 2,500,000 prisoners so that's about 3 $B per year. we could totally retire the national debt with that kind of revenue.
If we where to lock up ever man woman and child in america we could retire the national debt in 38 years.
Of course this is america we cant beat beat people for not meeting the quota, we will need to tase them instead.
Just another good reason to keep off the MMOs - and boycott China.
And if some bad guy guard, that has a hate for the USA, compels his group of prisoner pc users to all ping server in the USA..... This would be a ping attack.... food for thought.
"...it is not a victimless-crime."
What? Its about as near as you can get to a victimless crime! Who's it going to hurt? Some looser who's spent all his adult life working up to being a 'Zork king' or whatever you achieve on these virtual world thing.. Bah!
Before you lot get too holier than thou, remember all the crap things the USA has done to China and the rest of the world over the years!
"we could totally retire the national debt with that kind of revenue"
in 5000 years.......
That seems to be from a viewpoint from someone that's never played an MMO before.
RMT hurts both the game companies and the players. One of the biggest reasons MMO's fail, or don't last as long as expected is because of hyperinflation caused by in-game economic instability. RMT have a huge impact on economics.
The effect of thousands of RMT pumping tons of money into the economy 24/7 is a huge effect on inflation. Most players spend only a fraction of their time actually "farming" for currency; most of the time is spent grinding or questing, or simply socializing with other players. RMT spend their entire time "farming," non-stop. They also make it much harder for regular players to acquire currency because they literally do not move from the best money-making spots in the game.
If that were not enough, many RMT's also use hacks to do their business. It is not uncommon for 1 person to control 20+ autonomous players in-game that are farming using hacks. Hacks and exploits are a headache on their own, and RMT will not hesitate to make full use of them.
All this all leads to a much poorer experience in gameplay, leading to less customers, and less profit for gaming companies. RMT's are a huge problem in MMO's. It is NOT a victimless crime.
"...One of the biggest reasons MMO's fail, or don't last as long as expected is because of hyperinflation caused by in-game economic instability"
Umm, what? I have yet to hear of any mmo that has failed because of inflation. Most mmos fail due to lack of content (dungeons, small worlds, not much to do end game, ect), poor game mechanics or bugs. Not because of inflation. Dr. Zoidberg is right. This is as close to a victimless crime as you can get. It could probably even argue that its beneficial to a point. It does cost the game company money but, it also creates jobs as the game company that wants to deal with the influx of sellers have to hire or assign people to deal with it. Although, it may in the long run bring in more players that a game normally wouldn't receive. If someone wants to get to the end quickly then they would likely be purchasing a character or money in game. This is likely a player that wouldn't stay around anyway or just wouldn't have played since they didn't want to catch up or lag behind the rest of the populace.
By no means am I saying it should go unpunshied but, it really is, as mentioned, close to a victimless crime. You're not physically hurting anyone and an in game character would have no clue as to who has purchased in game items with real cash or not. Although, most who purchase a character and are fresh to the game tend to play worse as they don't know their class so thats easy to tell. Also, before you try it, I've been playing mmos since 2004 and I've played 6 different ones.
Why are the people so stupid? Don't you know that the prisoner in china must cut all the hairs?
Who'makes this story'?
I am a Chinese and I can tell how you are fooled. Look carefully into the picture:
1. At least one of the "prisoners" is a woman.
2. Their dresses are multifarious, Even the "guardians".
3. None of their hair is cut as a man from our prisons.
4. 300 prisoners with 300 picks would earn more than $1,000 per day, much cheaper than computers.
I don't think this picture is of a prison. It looks more like a gold farming company. Notice the tag the lady is wearing?
Plus, the image's filename is "gold-farming-china-wow7go-530.jpg"
Popsci may not have actual pictures of the insides of a Chinese prison so, they used the next best thing. Pictures of Chinese gold farmers.
"Before you lot get too holier than thou, remember all the crap things the USA has done to China and the rest of the world over the years!"
Like what? Made them rich? Gave countries around the world money for nothing? Did "allies" dirty work to take the blame? Rebuilt Europe? The good the US has done far outweighs any negative aspect. Only blind hatred says otherwise.