Inmates at China's Jixi prison labor camp are tasked with backbreaking, mind-numbing work: mining rock, carving chopsticks by hand, and assembly line work. Some are even forced to endure grueling video game play, farming for gold in online games.
That's no joke. The Guardian reports on the conditions at a Chinese labor camp that allegedly put prisoners to work in (unnamed) massively multiplayer online games, reaping virtual gold that prison guards would resell and profit from.
While playing the likes of World of Warcraft may sound like a welcome break from the physical toil of breaking rock and whittling toothpicks, the reality of it sounds like nothing but an endless grind interspersed with beatings.
The Guardian quotes a 54-year-old, former prison guard "who was jailed for three years in 2004 for 'illegally petitioning' the central government about corruption in his hometown" in its story. He explains.
"If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically," he said. "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 anonymous former prisoner says he believes the practice continues in Chinese prisons, despite government regulation on virtual currencies that went into effect in 2009.
China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work [The Guardian]