The Guardian, a fairly reputable United Kingdom newspaper, came out with a story about Chinese prisoners forced in to gold farming for MMOs. There are questions about the truth of the matter since it appears that this is coming from one ex-prisoner whose incarceration was from “illegal petitioning” of the government, but even if true, I am not sure anything new was really learned.
(1) The Chinese government uses prison labor, or laogai (“reform through labor”) as a lucrative means. It’s pretty rough in comparison to U.S. and E.U. prisons that have prison labor systems. Check.
(2) Chinese factory labor, regardless of whether it is used to create virtual gold or real-world jeans, is usually pretty rough in comparison to U.S. and E.U labor standards. Check.
(3) Buying virtual currency on a gray-to-black market fosters negative secondary effects such as viruses, account stealing, and, in this case, use of any “inhumane” labor. Check.
Wrapping up all three things together in one story really doesn’t change much does it? I guess the one thing this story could be used against is the argument that the consumer is altruistically supporting the life of a poorer human by buying virtual gold. I haven’t seen this one used yet, but I guess I now have this response in my pocket.
EDIT: Here’s a video version for those interested. It pulls from many journalistic sources, rather than just The Guardian.