Prisoners at labor camps in China are made to play popular MMOs in order to build up virtual credits, which are then sold by prison guards for real money, according to online reports.
In an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian, a former prisoner told
of how he was forced to perform manual labor during the day, and then act as a "gold farmer" for virtual in-game currency at night, working 12-hour shifts to earn up to $900 a day.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," said the unnamed prisoner.
"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 ($770.2-$924.3) a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
He explained that if a prisoner did not fulfil their quota for a day, they would be severely and brutally punished. "We kept playing until we could barely see things," he said. "Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening."
According to a report last month, "gold farmers" in Asia who stockpile game currencies to sell to MMO players now make up 85 percent
of the $3 billion global "third-party gaming services" industry.