Chinese Prisoners Used As Gold Farmers?

By Quintin Smith on May 26th, 2011 at 5:17 pm.

Funny alt-text joke has been given the afternoon off

This one’s a little disturbing, so if you’re in a good mood then proceed with caution. The Guardian has spoken to a Chinese man by the pseudonym of Liu Dali who claims that during his spell in a prison in North-East China, among the traditional back-breaking labour of breaking rocks and “whittling chopsticks and toothpicks from planks of wood”, the guards also made him and the other convicts play massively multiplayer games in twelve hour shifts, in the interest of selling the gold online. I’ve never bought MMORPG currency online, but I imagine if I had I’d currently be feeling quite ill.

Dali, an ex-prison guard who was imprisoned for “illegally petitioning” the Chinese government regarding corruption in his hometown, alleges that between 300 prisoners working in tandem the guards boasted that they could earn some 5,000-6,000 RMB (around £500) each day. Reading Dali’s description of anyone who failed to make their quota is sobering, to say the least.

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. 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 Chinese government actually banned the practice of gold farming in 2009, the article explains, and Dali’s imprisonment took place before then. But Dali is doubtful that the process has stopped- “Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening,” he said.

Two things spring to mind regarding this. First of all, it’s a premise that belongs in a science-fiction novel, and a dreary one at that. Prisoners being used as slave labour in an artificial reality? And the wealthy consumers of the world buying the resulting good, ignorant of its origins? It’s absurd.

Second of all, I have an all-new respect for Eve Online’s PLEX system. PLEX, which stands for Pilot License Extension, is a roundabout means of buying in-game currency for your character that bypasses gold farmers and other third parties entirely. CCP know there will always be players with more disposable income than time, so they offer these players an official, safe means of converting that money into Eve’s Interstellar Kredits.

A PLEX is a tradeable good in Eve that can be used to add 30 days of in-game time to your subscription. So, if you want currency in EVE, you can just buy an Eve timecode, convert it into two in-game PLEXes through official channels and then sell it on the in-game open market. Most importantly, this keeps EVE’s economy stable because you’re not just letting players pay to inject extra cash into their character’s wallet and, by extension, the economy. You’re giving them an object that other players will be happy to pay for.

Ultimately, the game’s veteran playerbase get to use their inordinate in-game wealth to buy PLEXes and thereby keep playing with paying CCP a penny, and the players that want to get rich quick can just sell PLEXes to do so safely and without encouraging gold farmers into the universe. Everybody wins. Except the gold farmers. They can, of course, sell ISK at a rate which undercuts PLEXes, but why bother? There are easier games to earn money in.

Which is really the problem. Until other online games start offering similar services, there will always be gold farmers, which means there will always be an exploitative and unregulated industry which answers to no-one. There will be more prisoners and there will be more plastic pipes. Without wanting to be too pessimistic, I’d like to see some figures on precisely how big a dent China’s banning of gold farming made on the country’s estimated 100,000 gold farmers, I really would.

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232 Comments »

  1. laddyman says:

    I feel like China is getting more and more Orwellian (and insane, nach) as the days pass.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      For profit prisons exist in the US and UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_industry Sure they’re not farming gold but they’re using prisoners to turn a profit.

    • megalomania says:

      @ReV_VAdAUL
      But they’re not working prisoners twelve hours a day and beating them if they fail to meet quotas.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Sadly I don’t know of anyone who covers Prison issues for the UK in the same excellent manner hidingfromgoro does for the US but seriously, read this post and tell me the US prison system is any better than China:
      Edit: actually this is a better link: http://lf.dont-read.com/?p=51
      Original:
      http://rethinkamerica.net/2011/02/08/prison-news-roundup-nov-2010-feb-2011/

    • FiveO says:

      Its particularly awesome that this comments thread has managed to attract its own Chinese sockpuppet too.

    • Tomm says:

      Sounds just like a sweatshop to me, and most people are more than happy to buy expensive clothing etc when the creator gets paid a pittance.

    • rivalin says:

      You must be a delicate little snowflake if this upsets you in particular.

      12 hour shifts on a game, where you get to sit down. Sounds stultifying, but it’s not exactly the same as standing in a stress position for 4 hours.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Actually, despite bad news stories like this, China is getting less and less totalitarian. You think this is bad? You should read about the Cultural Revolution.

    • gorgol says:

      Let’s all just agree to be against totalitarianism and against inhumane actions wherever they are manifest. OK?

      This article and some of the comments and links posted in the comments section made me sick to my stomach.

      BTW: while we’re talking about Orwellian societies, any one else disturbed by the omnipresence of security cameras in the UK? It’s one of the reasons I emigrated from there tbh.

    • subedii says:

      @ rivalin:

      You must be a delicate little snowflake if this upsets you in particular.

      Yeah you must be a real softie if you don’t like the idea of people getting beaten up with PIPES for not fulfilling a freaking WoW quota.

      I mean, they’re not even using broken glass or metal pipes, what’s the fuss amiright?

    • DarkFenix says:

      Well, if it’s forcing them to farm on a game 12 hours a day instead of having them break rocks 12 hours a day, I know which I’d call the lesser of two evils. Pretty sure they’ll wind up getting beaten regardless, China is not known for its sterling humanitarian record.

    • zalz says:

      I think more then anything its an outrage that people focus on the WoW-gold story. You know why this guy was in prison?

      For illegally petitioning government corruption in his town.

    • Premium User Badge

      QuantaCat says:

      Everyone does it, why not the chinese!

    • Xercies says:

      @Zalz

      Yeah that was what I was thinking, shouldn’t be focusing on WoW should be focusing on that crime of his, so its illegal to petition an government.

    • gorgol says:

      QuantaCat:

      OMG… :S Is that our future, and our children’s future? :,( . Mind you, there’s no way I’m bringing children into this world. Is that how the unemployment problem is going to be solved? And people just shrug it off and make jokes about it… Sick.

    • Premium User Badge

      QuantaCat says:

      I dont know. Im just happy I dont live in the US or in China. Or the UK for that matter.
      Social Capitalist states win. Atleast the ones with a mediocre amount of money. (austria)

      EDIT: and yes, I have two kids.

  2. Ian says:

    I think I’d actually feel better if China had some cackling lunatic at the helm.

  3. rebb says:

    Only by small amounts, they are pretty damn orwellian already.

  4. Zarunil says:

    The more I hear about China, the more I feel sorry for it’s citizens.

  5. Xercies says:

    Considering that China is pretty much an Orwellian society I think it might have made a big dent actually.

  6. VelociraptorBill says:

    Wow, this is pretty disgusting. Good thing I’ve never been dumb enough to spend money on in game gold.

  7. Teddy Leach says:

    “The Guardian”

    Oh.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      You’re right we should get our mainstream news coverage of games from decent right wing outlets like Fox News:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/fox-news/

    • DrazharLn says:

      Oh?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Yeees…

      The Guardian has a bit of a reputation around these here parts.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      The Guardian can be a bit overly dramatic at time, but I doubt they just went and made this up…

    • Caleb367 says:

      Guardian.
      Just a question: how much of this is actually verified fact, and how much is, err… a byproduct of a daydream at the desk?

    • Wulf says:

      That’s pretty much what I was thinking. I question the journalistic integrity of the source, to be honest. If more reputable sources start reporting on this, I might be more inclined to take it as something other than an excuse to bash a foreign country in the sort of newspapers that enjoy doing that for the purpose of sensationalism. (Sensationalism sells rags.)

      I’ve seen so many cultures, peoples, ethnicities, and so on very poorly misrepresented by journalists, especially in more sensationalist rags, that I just don’t take anything at face value any more. Even if there is truth to this, I doubt it’s the whole truth, and it’s likely written to show China in an especially negative light when, as has been mentioned, for profit prisons already exist.

      One thing to keep in mind when citing Orwell is that doublethink can apply to one’s own nation and culture, too. If we’re admonishing a foreign culture for doing something that we do, then it’s because we’ve been taught to be xenophobic toward the ultimate cause of ignoring what our home nation does in favour of observing the sins of others, as a form of distraction.

      It’s a shame that calling Orwell has, over time, mutated into something we do to ignore the growing nods towards Orwell’s fears in our own respective country.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Question to British RPSers — what’s wrong with the Guardian? It’s one of the three British newspapers I frequently read online (the other two being the Independent and the Telegraph), and in my limited experience it’s always been a source of good reporting. Plus, since we’re talking about Orwell so much, our anti-authoritarian friend held it in some esteem according to his memoir Homage to Catalonia for its reporting on the Spanish Civil War.

      So what’s the joke I’m clearly not in on?

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      It’s further left than the majority of the British press, and it takes a lot of pride in uncovering scandals wherever it can.

      Usually, they do very good reporting – just keep in mind that they cater to an audience, and a not-insignificant part of the Guardian’s audience is the militant left who isn’t quite militant enough to read the Statesman or Counterfire.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Understood. That’s why I try to counterbalance it with the Telegraph (I’d read the Times online, but ever since it became a Murdoch rag the quality of reporting and analysis has gone noticeably downhill, like the Wall Street Journal here).

    • The Hammer says:

      Wulf, if you …

      a) Think the Guardian only reports on the oopsy-daisies of other, Asian countries.

      b) Think the Guardian routinely bashes other countries and takes absolute pride in the UK

      c) Think the Guardian ignores tax-dodgers and corruption in our own country.

      then:

      You’re a bit silly.

      And should do more research.

    • Acorino says:

      Their writing is indeed very subjective, which is why I stopped reading them. But anyways, I doubt they just make stuff up. They’re not the Daily Mail, they’re still respectable, even if rather one-sided.

    • Bhazor says:

      The Guardian is one of the longest running and most respected broad sheets in England (and by extension the World). You can’t just dismiss their credibility without something to back it up and certainly I can’t think of any scandals or cases of misreporting coming from them.

      Certainly I’d rather take my news from the Guardian than any blog or online only news sites.

    • Bremze says:

      Yeah, an American that has been subjected only to Fox News might also experience similar dislike when encountering actual journalism.

    • DrazharLn says:

      The Guardian is my newspaper of choice. It’s not perfect, but I think of it as decent journalism.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Is being one sided a problem? I mean… I respect the journalistic value of The Economist and, well, they are not that objective either…

    • Theory says:

      The Guardian has been losing money ever since it was founded. There is certainly bias, but anyone who pulls the “out for a quick profit” line is idiotic.

      Note also how vague the criticisms above are.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      It’s better than when it used to be known as “The Gaurdain” due to it’s horrendous proof reading (this is going back a bit – it has improved now). But yeh, it does tend to actually have some truth behind it, unlike the Mail, Fox et al.

    • Muzman says:

      Basically, Putty, it’s trendy in some circles to sneer at anything perceived as being left leaning as though it implies an unusual amount of spin or bias.
      The right wing media have done a damn good job positioning themselves as impartial and speaking for the common man the last couple of decades and this complete fiction has actually gained credence with some people.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      So in the U.S. when some one says “its biased twords the left” they mean liberal, and to the right would mean conservative. Here anyway, the left are considered to be more for the common man, and the right is geared more for rich white people who oppress the common man. Is it opposite in the U.K. meaning the “right” is the more liberal party and the left is more conservative?

    • Theory says:

      Er, no. But things are shifted so far over to the right in the USA that our idea of a conservative can be said to overlap your idea of liberal…is that what you were talking about?

    • CMaster says:

      In the UK (and I think Europe in general), Liberal normally refers to the view of supporting liberty, freedom etc – classical liberalism, and Conservative to enforcing traditions, values etc. Left and Right are used with reference to economic prospects. So “left” means more socialist, right means more corporatist (or more free market, but most who claim to be so are in reality just corporatist).

      The Guardian in general is both Liberal and Lefty.

  8. Conor says:

    Erm. Wow.

  9. Flappybat says:

    In America they get paid pennies to be cheap labour for private companies.

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/may2000/pris-m08.shtml

  10. 0p8 says:

    OMFG…..thats all i have to say :(

  11. Moraven says:

    Don’t forget Sony has attempted to regulate the exchange of real money for virtual goods among players.

    http://stationexchange.station.sony.com/livegamer.vm

    Honestly, buying virtual goods from players is pretty much what most of the F2P games are doing, but instead of letting players sell gold and more powerful items, the company does instead.

    • Blaq says:

      Well, there’s a much easier way of denying the gold farmers the opportunity to make a profit. Simply make the ingame currencies easy enough to get so that the majority of the players don’t have any motivation to buy gold.

      But that would mean MMO developers could no longer rely on timesinks to get easy revenue off their game and would actually have to design engaging content. So that won’t happen.

  12. clownst0pper says:

    Well, at least he isn’t digging ALL day, half of it is playing the worlds most popular MMOG.

    Prisons, they are getting soft I tell you!

  13. .backslash says:

    Eh. I’m fairly certain using prisoners for gold farming isn’t government mandate. Some prison administrator saw a market gap and decided to exploit it. Pretty clever actually and kind of cool, aside form the whole violation-of-basic-human-rights part. The Chinese government isn’t nearly as insane as most people make it out to be. In a country this big with so many people in it, you can pretty much get away with anything, as long as you know how to work from inside the system, rather than against it.

    • Torgen says:

      Note that the prisoner spilling the beans was a prison guard who was imprisoned in the first place for “improperly petitioning” when he blew the whistle on corruption in his home town. What a nightmare life.

  14. waterloo says:

    I have bought WoW currency online (not in the past 5 years) and this doesn’t bother me at all. Oh noes! Convicts were forced to play WoW in shifts! That’s terrible!

    Unless they had to do it in Tarren Mill or Desolace….

    • IckyThump says:

      Did you miss the part where he was beaten with pipes? That does qualify as terrible.

    • Defiant Badger says:

      I really hope your just saying that because you didn’t read all of the article.

    • svge says:

      in a country where you can be put in prison for disagreeing with the government? Pretty terrible if you ask me.

    • Soon says:

      They’re not necessarily convicts. You can be sent to labour camp without trial or court hearing.

    • Nick says:

      you, sir, are an ass.

    • mwoody says:

      Well, but think of it this way: they’re convicts in a Chinese prison. ‘Shit is going to suck one way or another. So it’s not “oh it sucks to have to play a game 12 hours a day solely to farm gold,” which of course it does, but rather “is it worse to be forced to play WoW twelve hours a day and be beaten for failing to make enough money than it would be to have to stitch shoes twelve hours a day and be beaten for failing to make enough shoes,” or working in a mine, or sifting through trash, or paving roads, or soldering electronics, etc.

      The point being, if you’re in a place where they can make you do whatever they want and can beat you for failure, there’s a near-infinite list of things worse then sitting in a chair and playing WoW. RSI isn’t so bad compared to the list of health problems you could incur from other things on that list.

    • gabbaell says:

      Okay, so there’s worse things they could be forced to do. That makes waterloo’s oh noes! comment better and him not an ass how?

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to waterloo

      So… cunt.

    • edrick says:

      read the article next time, jackass.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      What if I told you that a large part of that gold comes from hacked accounts? Would that bother you?

      Actually, what does bother you? Not much, I’d guess…

  15. amandachen says:

    Most Westerners would complain if they went to prison and couldn’t play computer games twelve hours a day.

    As someone already pointed out, prisoners in the West also do jobs. Why all the anti-China comments here?

    • IckyThump says:

      Reply fail

    • Garg says:

      I think the issue is the corruption; what if they were making jeans for Levi instead with the money going to the guards, not the prison?

    • clive dunn says:

      For what it’s worth, China is an amazing country with an amazing history and amazing people. However, the Chinese goverment is fucked up. Western goverments are fucked up too. Again to reiterate, People are amazing; goverments are fucked up.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I think the bits that sounded a “bit off” to me was how he was locked up for political dissent, forced into boring communist re-eductation, and beaten for not playing a computer game enough so that fat babies could buy stupid shit in a game. Other than that the whole setup sounds fantastic, who wouldn’t want to play a game for 12 hours at night after a days hard labour.

    • Wulf says:

      What bugs me about this more than anything is the xenophobia of it, as I mentioned above, because what’s happening is that we’re ignoring this going on in our own country just so we can point and gawk at it going on in other nations, and speak in very xenophobic ways about just how terrible those foreigners are.

      That’s my problem with this. This sort of thing goes on everywhere, it’s human nature, it’s hardly confined to China, now is it? The way people are talking it’s like they believe that corruption, exploiting the system, and even for profit prisons are things that the UK doesn’t do. To the contrary, recently so many turned a blind eye to tax dodgers in the UK, which would’ve been a much bigger catch in general rather than going after those who’re on disability. Yeah, there’s fraud there, no doubt, but it also means huge amounts of stress and added illness for those who really do have problems and can barely go outdoors because of their problems. That’s just great.

      There’s plenty of corruption in the UK, we’re riddled with it from the ground up, and exploitation of the system happens all the time, both of which are evidenced in just how much we’re ignoring tax dodging, because tax dodging isn’t a crime if you’re rich. If that’s not corruption and exploiting the system then I don’t know what is.

      Every nation has problems, but that there are so many people who’re so incredibly xenophobic and look for problems only in foreign nations… that scares the shit out of me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      This is NOT happening in our own country. Prisoners, by and large, get treated very well in the UK. If they work, they have good working conditions, and generally, they don’t get beaten up by the guards.
      Our prison system is by no means perfect, but it’s a vast improvement over what it was 20 years ago. China, by comparison, is massively corrupt at a regional level, and that was always going to result in worse conditions in at prisons – and this is from a man who is working on a degree on Chinese politics.

      China isn’t half as bad as it’s sometimes depicted, but it is still very, very corrupt, and incredibly lax on human’s right issues. It’s treated very harshly by the Western press, but a lot of that is very, very well deserved. China’s security service happily spirits protesters away to be tortured with no recourse to legal help at all, and makes no apologies for that.

    • Felixader says:

      @Garg: Why should they, they have the normal workers for that.

    • Alaric says:

      Moreover, there is a bit of difference between having prisoners perform work for the benefit of society and having them also perform additional work for the benefit of the guards and the warden. Sadly this difference seems to escape some people who operate in the “my country can do no wrong” mode.

    • svge says:

      Wulf, every comment you make revolves around xenophobia. It’s like you take xenophobia as an idea decide to write a post about it, read the article and then work out a way to go on and on about it in a way that’s relevant to the topic.

      It’s not xenophobia, it’s people doing bad things in a country that allows it to happen. I don’t think it’s bad because they’re chinese I think it is bad because it is. This is an interesting story regardless of which country it relates to and your conspiracy theory that The Guardian is only printing it to lower peoples opinions of the chinese and foreingers is ridiculous.

    • BunnyPuncher says:

      Thats how Wulf posts in most threads… just learn to skip past his comments. They are long and he is a furry after all, so what do you expect? :)

    • svge says:

      I am at a loss for words.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Calling Wulf a furry and implying that is a bad thing is hardly going to put a stop to Wulf’s unfortunate conviction that we’re all xenophobic.

      The fact that Wulf is a furry or associates with them or whatever is of no concern to me and I would not dream of thinking less of him or anyone else for it.

      Wulf used to post some good stuff on here, even if all his recent posts are somewhat worse.

    • Cryo says:

      @clive dunn: Governments are made of people. Countries with shitty governments have them because they have shitty people.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      It’s cool to be anti-China. I enjoyed reading somewhere:

      “Do you think the Chinese are going to stage ‘Free Northern Ireland’ protests during the 2012 London Olympics?”

  16. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    China: Taking “sweat shops” to a new lvl.

  17. CaLe says:

    I’d rather sit and play a game for 12 hours than do manual labour.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      I don’t know. If I had a choice between breaking rocks in the sun under the whip or playing Grand Fantasia for twelve hours, I might have to ask for time to think it over.

  18. Sarkhan Lol says:

    Death Vans replaced by WoW Vans.

  19. Unaco says:

    All I see is 1 guy claiming this happened to him. No effort by the Guardian to contact Chinese Government sources, or sources at the Prison to confirm or deny this convicts story. I’m going to take this with a pinch of salt currently, until I see other sources reporting on it.

    Poor show on this one RPS, after the ripping you gave FOX News and their sensationalism.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, pretty much. I don’t trust any news source unless they have a good reputation for checking and backing up their news with facts and sources, which isn’t exactly a thing for the Guardian, is it? This is just pure xenophobic, anti-China sensationalism. I don’t feel good about that. I don’t feel good about that at all. Especially when, to say it again, we so readily ignore problems in our own countries (respectively) just to go on a China bashing spree.

      It says things about people that just makes my skin crawl, and makes me feel as sick as the article implies I should feel.

    • Tomm says:

      Yeah because China has such a good relationship with the media. -_-

    • Gormongous says:

      Honestly, would a denial or “no comment” from the Chinese government really improve this story that much?

    • Tatourmi says:

      The fact that the chinese government forbade such things suggests that they had been going on.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    (For those saying “What’s the difference” the sickening bit is the punishments for missing quotas. Assuming true, of course.)

    KG

    • amandachen says:

      Not heard of Abu Ghraib prison? It’s okay for Westerners to do worse.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      That’s the sickening bit?

      I’d say the sickening bit is how a third of the global population is basically working under slave-like conditions to support the near-luxurious lifestyles some 800 million people on the other side of the world, mostly without the latter’s knowledge.

      That’s the sickening bit to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Yeah, it was better 50 years ago when they were just starving instead.

      Please, if you’re going to spout statements like that, at least accept that places like China and India have VASTLY improved living and working standards over the last 2 decades – largely thanks to “Western exploitation”. The only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited.

      That’s not to say Western investors always help – we’ve contributed to expanded sex tourism, crappy work conditions, and a fair bit of torture too – but the West isn’t the Satan you depict it as.

    • amandachen says:

      It’s laughable that Kieron Gillen made such a comment. Him and his mates find simulated violence entertaining, so how can they comment on this?

    • Alaric says:

      Wow, cultural relativism at its finest.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @amandachen: Maybe because while he’s fine with pixels moving about on a screen but has a problem with humans being beaten? And Abu Ghraib is hardly a counterpoint – those responsible were prosecuted and convicted. The same can’t be said here unfortunately. (IF this is true of course)

    • sneetch says:

      @amandachen

      No, it’s not okay for westeners to do worse. It is equally bad, I defy you to point out the post where Kieron Gillen said it was okay.

      And if you can’t tell the difference between simulated violence and real violence then I truly feel sorry for you (and for those around you).

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      @amandachen, that’s astonishing. You’ve registered an account on RPS – a website devoted to computer games. Most of the community play games incorporating violence. Are you really, genuinely saying that because I have played… let’s say the Witcher, a game where you attack (computerised) people with (nonexistant) swords, I am disqualified from speaking about violence given to real people?

      Because that’s patently absurd. My ability to tell fantasy from reality, right from wrong and to feel compassion for other humans is not deminished by the fact that I also play games involving violence.

      I mean, you appear to have used “fantasy violence = real violence” as an actual argument. I can’t actually even process that properly.

    • subedii says:

      Amanda, are you genuinely trying to compare make-believe with actual physical violence?

      Here, do me a favour, read the following bolded sentence with as much concentration as you can physically muster. I need you to really focus on this one, okay?:

      “Subedii then took a mallet, and summarily PUMMELLED me, repeatedly, on the head.”

      If you managed to induce yourself into a psychosomatically impelled headache, feel free to let me know.

    • amandachen says:

      Yes, it’s a bit two-faced to comment on this issue if you get your jollies from simulated violence.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      There’s much I could say, but in a line:

      I’m a member of Amnesty International. I care about human rights abuses wherever they happen.

      KG

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      @Amandachen

      No. No it isn’t. And if you don’t understand why, I’m very sorry for you.

    • subedii says:

      Yes, it’s a bit two-faced to comment on this issue if you get your jollies from simulated violence.

      No it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.

      By that standard pretty much nobody in the world who’s ever watched an action movie or read a book containing violence has any right of say in any human rights abuse. Ever.

      The issue is one of real physical harm. This is separate from fantasy physical harm. One genuinely hurts people. The other does not. I’ve never raised a hand to anyone in my life so far, and I have no real intention of doing so. And I will most certainly feel free to say that human rights abuses are WRONG, wherever and whenever they happen.

      You want to drag Abu Ghuraib into this and say “SEE! Others do it too!”

      And yes, they do. This does not diminish what happens in Sudan, or Libya, or in Russia, or anywhere else, including China, nor does it diminish the responsibility to acknowledge human rights abuses anywhere else. Whatever your race, religion, gender, nationality, I genuinely don’t care.

      You are arguing against this as if it’s an anti China issue. It’s not. It’s an anti-human rights abuse issue. Learn to accept that.

    • Quinnbeast says:

      Above average trolling skills, or complete inability to distinguish fact from fiction?

      I can’t decide!

    • Bhazor says:

      @Crimsoneer

      “Please, if you’re going to spout statements like that, at least accept that places like China and India have VASTLY improved living and working standards over the last 2 decades – largely thanks to “Western exploitation””
      Look up the history of the East India Company and the Raj. The situation they were in 50 years ago was also because of western exploitation. As for this enlightenment perhaps this piece will give an idea of just how great they have it since the western funded industrial revolution. http://www.peopleandplanet.net/?lid=29850&section=37&topic=23
      Please, if you’re going to spout statements like that, at least accept that places like China and India have marginally improved living and working standards over the last 2 decades – when they were in an even worse situation largely thanks to Western exploitation.

    • CaLe says:

      I’m sure some of you already know this.. China has government employed individuals whose job is simply to go online and defend the Chinese government, whether it be through blogs or making comments on various popular Chinese websites. I’m not sure if they have these people going to English sites and doing this but after reading some stuff in this post I feel that might be the case.

    • Nick says:

      “Not heard of Abu Ghraib prison? It’s okay for Westerners to do worse.”

      One bad thing does not make another bad thing ok. News at ten.

    • aldo_14 says:

      Not heard of Abu Ghraib prison? It’s okay for Westerners to do worse.

      Where is it stated to be ‘okay’?

      Yes, it’s a bit two-faced to comment on this issue if you get your jollies from simulated violence.

      The operative word being simulated. The brain is more than capable of distinguishing the difference between cause, effect and repercussion in a game and in the real world.

    • DAdvocate says:

      While I’m hardly surprised to see newly created accounts defending China, I’m utterly amazed at the incompetence and incoherence of the defence. Surely it would be far more convincing to claim that it is either a lie or a simple case of local corruption which the government can wash its hands of?

      Someone who can’t tell the moral difference between playing games and real world violence is clearly in need of professional help.

    • Kaira- says:

      This whole thread makes me shake my head. We condemn one relatively new human-rights violation, and that somehow means that we are either a) xenophobic b) not condemning our own human-rights violations c) all of the above. I mean, if we should everytime mention every human-rights violation, this post would be longer than most books in my shelf. And calling this xenophobic? I don’t like swearing in the internet, but what the fuck is up with that? We are only allowed to present goody-good news from abroad? No. Problems exist everywhere, by telling news that there are problems somewhere else doesn’t magically mean that we dismiss our own problems as nonexistential or not-important.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Amandachen, you are unfortunately deluded and your arguments are weak. Go away and come back if you ever have something useful to contribute.

    • Tatourmi says:

      @DrazharLn: I think that you are being a bit too aggressive .

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      I defend Amandachen’s right to state their opinions, no matter how unpopular they may be, in an OPEN forum.

    • Theory says:

      Guys, it’s a troll. Call it out and move on.

    • CMaster says:

      It amuses me that
      A) The first google result I get for the name Amanda Chen is about a girl who is notable for her violence (a martial artist)
      B)That Abu Grahib is a pretty terrible example to pick, because it was made pretty clear in “the west” that it was a horrible thing and the people proved to be involved were jailed for their actions.

    • Catalept says:

      Long live the 50 Cent Party.

    • Muzman says:

      Not to get too involved, since I think Abu Ghraib under the US occupation isn’t a worthwhile comparison, but Kandon Arc is incorrect.
      The one thing that didn’t happen in the Abu Ghraib fallout is the those truly responsible for the state of the place were punished. Some largely irrelevant group of scapegoats who happened to be in pictures were instead.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      I don’t think she’s a troll. I think she is someone who is frustrated about knee-jerk anti-China reactions by Western people.

      I’m not saying she’s right in this case at all, but it does get tiring in the media in general. I remember Hugh Edwards or whatever saying “obviously they’re not going to mention all the human rights atrocities” or something during the Olympic opening ceremony when they were going through China’s history. Even if Britain had never colonised and enslaved people etc, what was the point in such a statement?

      There’s a general whiff of anti-China sentiment to everything these days, and it’s almost always right. However, it’s almost always massively hypocritical as well, and that’s what makes people play devils advocate.

  21. Alaric says:

    Anyone who buys gold, should be “re-educated through labor.”

  22. Uglycat says:

    I like the parts where RPS readers think that Fox News and the Guardian are equal players in the field of journalism.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Maybe not in terms of journalistic integrity, but in terms of polarisation and bias they certainly are.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Funny, I think that journalistic outlets which are open about their biases but honest in their reporting is exactly what we need. Drop the silly pretense of robotic neutrality; journalists are human beings with a point of view and a personality. The carefully sanitized, opinion-free rags tend to give equal weight to truth and lies, which is just about the worst possible option.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      I’m not saying that bias is necessarily a bad thing, I was just explaining why many people hold the paper in the same regard as Fox News.

    • Frye2k11 says:

      Amen. I would choose a biased honest journalist over a cherry-picking liar with an agenda any time. Even if he votes for the wrong party.

    • Legionary says:

      No, sorry. The Guardian is nowhere near as polarised as FOX News. It’s a left-leaning broadsheet. FOX News is a wholly owned subsidary of the Republican Party.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I hate, hate, hate this kind of ‘both sides are bad’ argument. No. Some sides are worse (FOX) than others (Grauniad).

  23. bowl of snakes says:

    when is guns and roses ever gonna release that album?

  24. cHeal says:

    is this actually any different to US prisoners churning out license plates? meh

  25. Squirrelfanatic says:

    I find this as digusting and saddening as the next sensible guy.

    But is it true?

  26. Kalil says:

    Ug.

    I have worked specifically in this field for a fair few years now as a human rights lawyer for various INGOs, state researchers and for the UN in a couple of capacities. What has been reported is neither unusual nor exceptional. China has over 300k in labour camps deemed as Reform Through Labour or Reform Through Education camps. In particular the Falun Gong and political dissidents have suffered as have those from Xinjiang province.

    These are those who are not eligible for such favourable treatment as playing MMO’s to provide income for others; we have talked about gold farmers for a long time within the MMO sphere and yet this is a surprise to some of you. Poor wages we can accept and treat with disdain yet the use of prison or forced labour is in some way a worse degree? It is a degree but it is still a factor that is present and distracts from far worse human rights abuses that occur.

    Having played Eve for many years in the past I cannot fault those who are “farmers” or who manage the automatons. I have in various roles dealt with many people who have endured years of severe abuse.

    I think my point is that if you are interested go read Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, UN and other publications. The former two express their points in ways that I find patronising, as in you should not need to be told that torture is an atrocity, but nevertheless the point remains that in China, as in other countries has people who are held for reasons that are, to our eyes I would hope, nefarious. Yet this continues because the disruption of geopolitical relations will harm those that have the right to be supported by their countrymen’s ability to vote.

    • The Hammer says:

      Good post, and well said.

    • subedii says:

      The former two express their points in ways that I find patronising, as in you should not need to be told that torture is an atrocity

      It still requires stating regardless. Whatever governments involved always have a tendency to re-define their terms until they can happily state that “what we do isn’t torture”. Which to be honest, I always find far more patronising, and just plain anger inducing when they do.

      And before amandachen jumps on this one as well: Yes that includes the US and UK as well.

  27. Bhazor says:

    Reading some of the comments all I can conclude is a great number of people are considering this an Oh Dearism:
    “I can’t understand this situation so I’d better just dismiss it and forget about it before I get too upset”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8moePxHpvok
    Oh dear.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      What a shame.

    • arccos says:

      What would you have us do? As the Arab Spring has shown yet again, the most likely place to cause successful change in China is from within China itself. I’m not going to petition my government to invade China to topple the government.

      Yes, this is terrible. Yes, it needs to stop. No, you don’t have the right to judge others as poor human beings because their causes are not your causes.

    • BurningPet says:

      What Arab Spring?

      Are they in a better place now? how about a year from now?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      As I understand it, (from NPR) the Arab Spring is a rejection of fundamentalist radicalism.

      So your statement doesn’t really make sense.

      @arccos Yes, that surely is the best way to do it.

    • Cryo says:

      @DJ Phantoon: Eh, not really. They are just pissed at their governments for being corrupt, so they are fighting to replace them with a different corrupt government.

    • BurningPet says:

      Dj – what statement?

      anyway, i agree with cryo. too many afircan countries have revolutions that mostly lead up to worst goverments.

  28. Kalil says:

    Indeed Subedii, my issue is…and I am well acquainted with those that draft the articles (as in we drink and vent together) is that they do it for a wider audience. My opinion is that the wider audience does not read these articles by and large, they are read in the majority by those within the humanitarian sphere. While it starts with individuals the majority that use their articles do so to cite them. Those that access their articles tend to be, in my experience, those that know the situation or at least dont need to be told how to feel.

    Tell the public the situation, do it in a way that makes the information accessible and they well make their own decision. When I started many years ago as an intern I reached a 3 month point where I was having a pint with a friend and found I had, over the 3 months, 7 different ways to torture a man’s genitals. Electrocution counted as one.

    That was written for effect. At the time I was largely dealing with South East Asia but what needs to be understood is that this happens. When it is part of a widespread and endemic system authorised by a state it is past the pale so to speak. I would like such information to be widespread, it is not a problem (by and large) for those in countries such as the UK where I am from but it is something that we can help those that stand up against the system that allows it.

    Ai Weiwei has recently come to global attention but there are many others in many countries who stand up but will be forgotten. My personal opinion is that those such as him are the minority that get such global media attention. Anyway it is late here in Asia and I dont want to be sidetracked and thereby detract from my point. Such things happen and my personal perspective is that those who read about do not need to be told how to feel, the should receive the facts and determine their reaction by themselves. But such is the situation where such organisation rely on donors.

    I would encourage you to read the UNHCR’s Refworld site like you would wikipedia or tvtropes.org, surf it clicking the links that interest you.

    I dont post much but kudos to the readers and writers of RPS. Its a fantastic site and while this is a bit of a departure from the norm I really enjoy accessing the site when I have the ability to do so.

  29. Enikuo says:

    I don’t understand why so many people are so willing to believe this when the article only cites a single source.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Perhaps, after stories like this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_transplantation_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

      it strikes people as being plausible ?
      And, yes, I am well aware of myriad failings in my country in regards to our various incarceration policies, both admitted and hidden, domestic and foreign. I am also deeply ashamed by them, as if that matters.

      UPDATE: Hope this link works, am also editing my next post.

    • Enikuo says:

      One guy said it. That shouldn’t be convincing.

      Also, your link doesn’t work.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Bugger. Sorry, I use the secure page, and sometimes it doesn’t edit well. Just Google ‘Chinese Organ Harvesting’, and you’ll find plenty of links. I admit I chose the most egregious one off the top of my head for full-shock effect.

      Besides, you were asking why people are so ready to believe this article, and I stated because it strikes them as being plausible. You are allowed to draw your own conclusions as to why that it so.

      UPDATE: I edited this and my previous post to reflect a working link, and struck a few sentences to keep it honest.

    • Enikuo says:

      Oh, I thought the rhetorical tone of my statement would be clear. Sorry about that!

      I don’t actually wonder why people believe it. I just think it’s dumb to believe a story the cites one, anonymous source. It doesn’t really matter how many other, unrelated stories exist about horrible stuff in China – they don’t make this story any more credible.

    • amandachen says:

      Human organs are tangibles, so that’s different. But, anyway, how is what China does with prisoner’s organs much different from those South Carolina proposals from a few years ago? How and why can an American comment on this issue?

    • Kaira- says:

      @amandachen
      Why shouldn’t they be able to comment? Is this something that only the Chinese should be able to comment? Or what is your reasoning behind all this, because honestly, you are not making any sense.

    • amandachen says:

      So what about those South Carolina organ donation proposals for prison inmates? Anyone know what happened with those?

    • Hikkikomori says:

      The Chinese propaganda machine is epic. I didn’t know they combed English language blogs.

      Whatever do you mean “tangibles”, my dear Amandachen? And if Americans can’t comment on this matter, can a Chinese citizen comment on it? I personally don’t see national boundaries other than the ones people enforce on themselves but you know what, I read history. You should too.

      Read about Mao Tze Tung and how he invented the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution” in order to control his own people and to fashion himself as his idol, the first Emperor Qin. Read about the millions that died in the name of the same person you still sport in a big photo above Tien An Men. Start breaking your walls.

      You have access to the internet, use a proxy and research. Believe only in your own eyes, not the Politburo’s elaborate show of which you are probably part.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      @Enikuo-

      No, my apologies for not catching the rhetorical nature of your question.

      @Amandchen -

      As I am generally pay attention to the imbecilities in Texas(there are many), I am unaware of what South Carolina proposed. So, either enlighten me, or please link to this proposal. And, since I am a citizen living in Texas, under the Federal System of this country, it is only our federal government that can override decisions made at the state level, not citizens of one state who disapprove of the policies and proposals of another state. Lastly, how are proposals in the same category as admitted actualities? I’ll admit to choosing an inflammatory example as to why people are willing to take negative statements involving some people in the PRC at face value. And, aren’t you as guilty of the same judgementalism you are accusing me of being guilty? Or does my being an American citizen deny me the permission to ask questions about other countries?

    • Enikuo says:

      Just to be clear – I’m not making some wholesale defense of China, since the responses seem to have derailed into that. I am simply questioning the willingness of people to believe one, poorly-sourced article. Believing an uncorroborated story from one anonymous source is pretty close to buying into propaganda, if you ask me.

      No problem Tex. I wasn’t trying to lure you into some trap, I genuinely believed the tone would be clear. My fault :)

    • amandachen says:

      Hey, wiki boy. Google it.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      @Amandchen -
      I was so busy composing my last post, I didn’t see your statement as to what a legislator in South Carolina proposed. If you read political coverage from Washington DC and the state capitals, you’ll see many proposals that strike people as being beyond lunacy. Thankfully, many, if not most, die long before they become law. You still haven’t answered my other questions, btw

      I never stated what I believed in regards to the Guardian article. I only stated my thoughts as to why people are so ready to believe it.

    • amandachen says:

      I wish I had time to read your trolling, WB, dear.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      I would guess this is what Amanda is referring to: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2007/04/09/prsb0409.htm

      I have no idea why it is supposed to comparable to the topic though:
      1) it is voluntary
      2) Prisoners would reduce their sentence by donating organs
      3) As far as I can tell it never passed; and if it did the article points out that it would likely be incompatible with federal law

      As far as I can see this just shows the benefit of a system with actual scrutiny of government.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Amandachen -
      Oh, dear. I asked you reasonable questions, and you accuse me of trolling. I state why, as a citizen of the USA living in Texas, I have no control over a proposed law in South Carolina, and you accuse me of trolling. I have not called you an agent nor an apologist for the PRC, nor do I think you are one, and you accuse me of trolling. I guess we can agree to disagree as to what constitutes a troll, then.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Amandachen: Hey, wiki boy. Google it.

      You can do that from China?

    • amandachen says:

      No. That’s why I asked him to do it.

  30. Baf says:

    Re “premise that belongs in a science fiction novel”: Cory Doctorow came pretty close with his 2004 short story Anda’s Game. He doesn’t take it quite as far as this, though — the gold farmers in the story are oppressed sweatshop labor, not outright prisoners (if there’s a meaningful difference).

  31. DarkFenix says:

    Hats are certainly off to CCP and their simple yet effective way of giving the more-money-than-free-time players a level playing field to have fun (I was one of those players when I was playing Eve a few years back) and completely destroying the gold selling market in one fell swoop.

  32. obvioustroll says:

    Can, opened.

    Worms, everywhere.

  33. chickdigger802 says:

    no wonder china streets are so dirty. There prisoners rather farm gold =/

  34. Hikkikomori says:

    The issues of gold farming are explored in Cory Doctorow’s near future novel “For the win”. It’s intended for young adults but I found it a very pleasant read and quite educational. I actually learned a lot about MMORPGs as well as the economy since i hadn’t touched MMORPGs before reading the book. :)

    It’s published under a CC license so you can download it for free here: http://craphound.com/ftw/download/

    • amandachen says:

      Right. A work of fiction. That’s the best source to look to.

    • Kaira- says:

      @amandachen
      Isn’t it quite close to reality then?
      “Yes, it’s a bit two-faced to comment on this issue if you get your jollies from simulated violence.”

    • amandachen says:

      Kill real people if you like. It’s up to you.

      Anyway, I’m off to play ProgressQuest and, at the same time, go to my friend’s party (no, not the communist party). Bye.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Simulated, Amanda. SIMULATED. Four syllables.

    • amandachen says:

      Leach boy, I’m glad those English lessons are finally working out for you.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      @amandachen, we get it, you don’t see this in the same way as most of the other posts in this thread do, and whatever your motivation for that (which you never stated and I’m genuinely curious about), you might have written yourself into a rage. I propose lowering that stress level before continuing being condescending on your fellow commentators.

      edit: yes, partying is always an option.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      A disturbing implication if you cannot find the contrasts between real life and video games.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Indeed, as is flipping the fuck out and taking the flamethrower to a discussion thread on human rights issues.

  35. jon_hill987 says:

    Surely the real problem here is that WoW is such a grind some people feel the need to pay someone to play it for them.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I hear some shooters are so bad people even feel the need for wallhacks and aimbots!

  36. BobsLawnService says:

    I’m not quite calling bullshit but someone with a grudge against the state spouting fantastic tales about state sponsored abuse? It’s a worrying story but I’d like to see more than one dudes word that it happened before passing judgement on an entire government.

  37. ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

    No doubt the ratio of…

    “Oh. My. GOD. That’s an ABOMINATION!” ‘s

    …to…

    “I’m going to help do something about that beyond just commenting on it” ‘s

    …will be gloriously high.

    Personally, I just think the whole thing is incredibly entlepleneuliar.
    And of course, exaggerated in the right (and unconfirmed) places for the greatest newsworthy effect.

    Do things like this go on? Check.
    Do worse things like this go on? Check.
    Do things like this go on in China? Check
    Do things like this go on in many other countries? Check
    What – even in our super civilized western democracies? Check
    Is it naughty behaviour? Check
    Will many of us comment on it from fairly high horses in between bouts of Witcher 2 and Dirt 3? Check
    Will many of us do anything, in real terms, about things like this? Does Not Compute.

    Fancy a quick bout of Left 4 Dead now? Check

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Pray tell, what can we do about it?

    • Rii says:

      “I just think the whole thing is incredibly entlepleneuliar.”

      Google doesn’t recognise this word. =/

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Yes Western governments are not perfect. Does that mean they’re as bad as communist China? Of course not. Nor is it as if when Western governments do commit human rights abuses, Western media ignores them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Buzko says:

      @Rii

      I believe he is humourously exchanging the Rs and Ls in the word ‘entrepreneurial’.

  38. Lucifalle says:

    Okay, why aren’t my comments appearing here?
    Also, I’ve noticed how awfully convenient it is for people in the comments to dismiss anyone who doesn’t have an extremely negative opinion of China as being some kind of spy sent here by the Chinese government to spread propaganda. I admit that RPS is great, and no doubt government agents would enjoy reading it as much as anyone, but isn’t that a bit far-fetched? Ilusions of grandeur and all that.

    It’s like saying that anyone whose opinion differs from mine must belong to some secret organization sent here to persecute me. Now that’s what I call paranoid delusional thinking.

    • amandachen says:

      Do you know how similar the triads are to the freemasons?

    • CaLe says:

      Someone besides me said that? I just stated a fact and a possibility that might or might not be the case. I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories.

    • Lucifalle says:

      Yeah, I just read through the comments, and there were several people who, if not outright saying it, implied that the comments here were somehow attracting attention from Chinese government agents.

      It just seems so paranoid to me. I think people have a very skewed image of the rest of the world. They seem to think that every country apart from their own is full of terrorists, suffering, orwellian nightmares, diabolical government regimes etc.
      The rather hysterical image the media often portrays doesn’t exactly help this, I admit.
      Have you even given thought to the idea that people, no matter where they live, are just people, most of them leading very ordinary lives?

      I somehow doubt that a random gaming blog from the UK would attract attention from any government, anywhere. A Chinese forum/website or political blog, maybe. But China is hardly North Korea.

      @amandachen Heh, didn’t you know that the Chinese government is actually run by lizardmen and the illuminati? Their spies are EVERYWHERE.

    • Theory says:

      Google Reader shows that this story is all over the web, Lucifalle. If you really want to believe that astroturfing doesn’t happen, feel free…

    • CMaster says:

      The US government (or at least the military/paramilitary divisions thereof) are known to have pretty heavy investment in “astrotrufing” – employing people to post on forums, supporting US military interests and lambasting foreign ones (supposedly they mostly target states in which they wish to influence opinions, rather than domestic sites). No reason to think the Chinese aren’t playing the same game.

    • Bret says:

      Hell, more reason to think China’s pulling it.

      And, apologies if it ain’t, this looks like a case. I mean, someone shows up to say China’s entirely on the up and up with a pic and a name who:

      1) Isn’t from ’round these parts (Not suspicious in and of itself, but combined with the aforementioned of mild interest.)

      2) Is stating that electronic manshoots are worse than Chinese prison abuses, which is either moron turf or astro.

      Now, the grammar and skill at deflection when not having a leg to stand on? Doesn’t feel like the garden variety troll. Don’t feel like a moron neither. Which leaves the astroturf thing seeming a possibility.

      Which kinda makes me giddy in a sick way, as the whole matter feels almost cyberpunk. And I do have a soft spot for the genre.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      Jesus, Bret.

      “not even the Germans would be stupid enough to field a spy with a strong German accent.”

      She’s been on RPS ages. I know RPS is a bastion of games journalism-journalism, but do you really think that China have a sleeper cell of two (because obviously I’m one as well) spies that have been secretly waiting for years to pounce on PC-centric games-related blog-items?

  39. Theory says:

    The most interesting part of this discussion for me is that the original story is a direct report of this fellow’s words followed by some factual statements. There is no editorial line. At no point is the reader told how to treat the story.

    All of the different reactions on this page are the result of pre-existing biases in each writer’s own head.

  40. trjp says:

    Do you own any electronic device made in China?

    (Clue: unless you’re Amish the answer is yes)

    If so, you are contributing to people being treat worse than slaves – in conditions where they need to ask workers to sign ‘no suicide’ contracts FOR FUCKS SAKE.

    Prisoners playing a game? Not even worth a column inch by comparison – in fact it’s a distraction so it’s worse than nothing.

    In fact – pass the idea on for British Prisons and let’s get something back from people who decided to take from others eh?

    • trjp says:

      also, saying that games need to move away from virtual currency because people will farm it is stupid. It’s like saying people should stop having valuables because they might get stolen.

      Wherever there’s a job to do – there will be someone offering to do it for you (for a fee, of course) – this is the unstoppable force which is commerce, get used to it, work WITH it, learn to love it.

      Oh – and – Invoking Eve as a paragon of virtue is particularly cheeky given that Eve’s entire progression is designed to ensure that people pay for it EVEN WHEN THEY’RE NOT PLAYING IT!!! There’s no other reason to tie progression to real time – in many ways it’s more insidious than other MMOs!

    • Nick says:

      I hear Apple’s chinese factory conditions are top notch.

    • Bhazor says:

      @ trjp

      Huh, so in short sucks to be them. Or any of the hundreds of thousands of people left unemployed because of these third world sweat shops. Or are you willing to work at 5% of your current salary to compete?

      There is no excuse for Victorian work conditions in the 21st century. People are dying because of us.

      Oh. Well.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Paying money for virtual currency it is pretty stupid in my opinion. The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    • trjp says:

      @Bhazor – “left unemployed because of third-world sweatshops” – welcome to globalisation and the unregulated market – nothing you can do about it and I’m confused why that’s aimed at me anyway??
      My point was there are FAR worse things going on in China than making a prisoner play WOW for 12 hours. I wasn’t excusing anything – just suggesting this wasn’t really worth notice in the grand scale of things…
      If you were to stop buying things made in the conditions you describe, you’d be naked, without most of your furniture, almost all your electricals – it’s impossible to boycott because it’s everywhere…

    • trjp says:

      More to the point, expressing horror at prisoners playing WoW on a PC gaming site is missing the point by miles…

      There are far, far more people who are exploited so that we can have PCs – almost all the hardware in the PC you’re using was made in one of the Chinese megafactories – the same places we keep hearing of suicide pacts,horrific working conditions and people paid almost nothing.

      Seems more than ironic to discuss this, even…

    • Cinnamon says:

      We already knew about that trjp, but this story is what you might call news. I think that many of the people working in those factories at least do so freely on the assumption that they can improve their quality of life and are able to return to their farms or whatever.

    • trjp says:

      Is it news tho – it reads like hearsay and guesswork mixed with hatred and bias to me…

      People are executed in China for trivial things – political dissent – allsorts – playing WoW pales a bit surely???

    • The Hammer says:

      tjrp,

      Do you have any idea as to what repeated 12+ hour shifts sitting in the same spot does to a body?

    • trjp says:

      Of course I know what that feels like, I have over 250 played days in WoW, that’s the equivalent of 18 months in a chinese prison (and I did that in just over 3 years so I’m 50% Chinese convict!!) ;)
      I raided man, Molten Core, Onyxia, Blackrock Depths man, you weren’t THERE man- oh those fucking suppression rooms, whatever you do don’t drop the soap in there…

      Actually, what am I saying? Freelance writing and software development means I sit in this chair for at least 12 hours most days (that’s all 7 of them – not the lazy 5) – with odd breaks to the fridge and kettle, admittedly – but when someone called yesterday and said their PC was slow I had my laptop in a bag and I was in the car faster than you can say “where’dhego” – so when do >I< get parole eh? :)

  41. Lucifalle says:

    (RPS ate a comment I posted before, so I shall sum up some of my earlier points here as well).
    My point is that people in general seem to have a rather strange image of China as a whole. I lived there for ten years when I was younger, and it was nowhere near the dystopia that people seem to want to believe it is. The fact that any innocent commenter here can be accused of being an agent of the Chinese government, and that people actually take it seriously, saddens me. It’s like some sort of paranoid witch hunt straight out of the Crucible.
    I’ve traveled widely in my life, and lived in more than six countries, to the point where I no longer consider myself to have a firm nationality (I wasn’t even born in the country my passport claims I come from).
    Despite still being fairly young, I feel like I’ve gained a lot of perspective on various countries because of this, and it strikes me that the western world is still largely ignorant about the living conditions and opportunities available in areas of the world they may have only read about from the news.
    I could cherry pick a whole handful of comments from this thread alone that portray a deep ignorance about the everyday life of Chinese citizens. I’ve seen comments on news articles like this that go so far as to say “let’s nuke China.” When I tell people that I lived in China, they often ask me if my parents worked in the military, because why else would anyone want to live there? The ignorance is astounding.
    I personally disagree with a lot of the decisions undertaken by the US government, and yet I never refer to the US as a “dystopia” nor do I show deep disrespect to its people by saying that I feel sorry for them.
    China has a lot of problems, the government is still old-fashioned and misguided, the human rights situation needs to improve, yes, I agree. But, one has to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that China was a truly communist country. They have improved drastically since then. The city I lived in, Shanghai, is more capitalist than communist these days. Most people I met in my travels in China lived perfectly ordinary, happy lives… and trust me, they weren’t subservient sheep, they spoke their minds about the things that bothered them, just as anyone would. These articles that appear in the western media are a double-edged blade. On the one hand, assuming they hold only fact and no bias, they are bringing to light the human rights issues still existent in certain areas of China. But the dark side of this is that because the media focuses only on the negative issues, people only get a negative image of the country. When Shanghai was allowed to host it’s first gay pride, did anybody hear about it? Most people seem surprised when I tell them about the open-minded and forward thinking attitudes I encounter among Chinese people. Why should they be?
    And what about the human rights issues in your own country? The bloody history of your country? The crimes of the government that may go unnoticed? I think people should focus on sorting out their own issues before they start looking down upon those around them. I know that my own country (no, I’m not Chinese) has a number of issues that worry me greatly and yet the youth here are increasingly passive about taking action to change the way things are. They are more content with browsing facebook, watching TV and getting drunk. And then they bash other countries online. It makes me sad.
    I googled up astroturfing (I’m not a native english speaker, so I didn’t recognize the word) and the wikipedia article that I read immediately mentioned several American companies that practice it. I never denied that it happens, but I think in China this is more common on the larger Chinese websites, forums and blogs. A niche site like RPS would not be worth their time. That is where I think the paranoia stems from. Or perhaps its not paranoia at all, but people trying to dismiss the comments of others in a convenient, yet immature manner. Sort of like a medieval town where a woman tries to speak up against a man, and the man says “don’t listen to her, she’s a witch!”. This diverts attention away from the real debate and paints the other as someone to be feared, loathed or not to be taken seriously. I have a feeling that is what is going on here.

    (Argh! And now I tried to reply to Theory, and my comment somehow got posted down here. I don’t get the RPS comment system >_<)

  42. Muzman says:

    There is a bit of “OMG China” to this story and comments, as though we’re bored of kicking North Korea. I’m sure the state of Chinese prisons often isn’t great, nor Indonesia, Thailand, India and the United States from what I hear (as others have mentioned).
    The thing that really struck me was that they feel the need to do this at all. How much more of the West’s money do they need?! There’s not going to be any left in like five years at this rate! Can’t we just have our MMOs and amuse ourselves in these twilight years? I mean, come on.

  43. Tom OBedlam says:

    I don’t think I’ve been as depressed reading an RPS comment thread since the furore about Fallout New Vegas

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      RPS doesn’t do politics/morality well. The commenters even worse. Such is the internets… :(

    • D says:

      I thought it went fairly well here, but then I’ve been ill lately and have spent too much time reading youtube comments to TED videos.

  44. Daniel Klein says:

    The fiery gaze of the Strossian one has already turned to this story. He also recently finished Rule 34, the sequel to Halting State. This story would have felt right at home in Halting State. (Plus, spoiler warning, the baddies were Chinese, so there.)

    Much as this sickens me I can’t help but also be fascinated by it.

  45. viverravid says:

    Aside from all the China Defence Force stuff going on in here (which I am somewhat sympathetic to), I’m pretty sure China’s “ban” on gold farming only applies to gold sold to other Chinese nationals or for games with a local business presence in China.

    Running a business that sells gold to foreigners is still perfectly legal, bringing money into the country and all that.

    I’ll try and dig up a link.

  46. viverravid says:

    Also, anyone reminded of that WiIliam Gibson story where armies of prisoners in Russia are churning our 3D animation?

  47. TooNu says:

    Yea, I’m glad I linked you this. It’s quite the post and I also thought about the RMT in EvE. Damn Russians.

  48. amandachen says:

    “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.”
    Pretty much the experience of anyone who went to public school (you Americans would call it private school). Recent legislation has meant that teachers have to be a bit more relaxed these days.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      After this news post, something tells me RPS might be blocked in China for not being propaganda-friendly. Which probably means you won’t be able to post anymore. It was nice knowing you.
      Also, must suck that you can’t watch Dr Who anymore.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      @Raiyan:
      No-one said she lived in China.

      There are opinions and then there is racism leveled at an individual. Would have been pretty easy to criticise her post in a normal way like most others have been doing.

      Learn how, or leave the RPS community.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      *shrug*
      Hey, s/he was trolling by saying people who play violent games don’t deserve to comment on human rights violation, so I’m just trolling back.
      I don’t tend to get aggressive, but it pisses me off when people go to ridiculous lengths to defend their government’s dubious actions – be it Chinese or ‘Merican (who in turn have the Abu Gharib prisons where scapegoats are tortured).
      My comment wasn’t racist considering all my criticism so far have been directed at the government, not the Chinese people themselves. And I do believe Amanda lives in China, seeing his/her response to my first post on the topic (though admittedly that might have been him/her humoring me).
      And congratulations on being made the spokesman for all of RPS.

      Edit: Want to see racism? See Cryo’s reply to Clive Dunn up there.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      No, I don’t want to see racism.

  49. amandachen says:

    Last time I posted here (actually, I think it was in the forum) I got a couple of people pestering me on my facebook. So I’m quitting now. I don’t want the hassle.

    • trjp says:

      Translation: Look at me, look at me, come and find me on Facebook PLEASE PLEASE.

      No but seriously, you just put the idea into the heads of loads of people – and I don’t believe you didn’t realise you were doing it…

      This isn’t Blizzard – realnames are optional for a reason…

    • amandachen says:

      Well, I posted that 12 hours after someone said in this thread that they’d been googling for me. No way do I want that nonsense on my facebook again. I mean, all my family had to read that abuse.

  50. Lucifalle says:

    I thought the RPS community was supposed to be nice :(

    Facebook stalking? Racism? Personal insults?

    I think that in the future, RPS should moderate the comments. Internet bullying is unacceptable. No matter how you try to justify it.

    • Zorganist says:

      RPS do moderate comments, but the community is generally well-mannered enough that they never really have to do anything; Alec said he had to work out how to ban someone for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

      Yes, there have been a few personal insults, but much less than you would normally have. I haven’t seen anything I would qualify as racism yet, and the Facebook ‘pestering’ (assuming that actually happened) is what you open yourself up for when you use your real name as your username. Although, i would question what exactly you expect other than hostility when you make an account on a gaming blog, and then bemoan simulated violence. Some people are idiots.