Chinese prisoners sentenced to WoW gold farming
(Yahoo) – Rocks by day, gold by night. After a day of grueling physical labor, inmates in Chinese prisons would be forced to engage in 12-hour sessions of online gaming to rack up credits. This was the work cycle for many Chinese prisoners in years past, the Guardian is reporting.
The virtual work environment proved to be a perplexing part of daily life for many inmates. The prison guards invested a lot of time and energy into making sure the prisoners met quotas for faux currencies, which the guards later traded for real world money.
The Guardian told the story of Liu Dali (a pseudonym) who was imprisoned for three years from 2004 to 2007. “If I couldn’t meet my work quota, they would punish me physically,” he said. The trade of gold for cash was widespread in Chinese prisons because of how lucrative it is.
“Gold farming” is the moniker for this business. There are scores of gamers across the globe that would pay real money for game currency just so they could progress in the game. World of Warcraft was one of many games the inmates had to trudge through to accrue certain amounts of online cash.
Gold farming, however, is not relegated to prison inmates. This is a job for some people, and there are gamers who would pay good money for fake money. For Liu Dali and his comrades in shackles, as the Guardian reported, none of their virtual labor translated into profit for them.
This, of course, is not what game makers intended. The practice of gold farming, however, is not an easy thing to regulate. Virtual currency translating into real world profits is a relatively recent thing, and since it does not exist in a physical space, it is very easy to manipulate.
While Liu Dali may no longer be in prison, his fear that this practice still exists could very well be true. Gold farming puts policy makers into an integral position as the forced 12-hour sessions can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing.