The Guardian brings us a piece of surreal news from Beijing. They report that at the Jixi labor camp, prisoners would work at coal mines during the day and at night guards would force them to play Internet games for the benefit of the guards.
The whole piece is worth read, but here's a small slice of the narrative:
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "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 [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
What's worse, the prisoners told The Guardian, is if they didn't gather enough credits, they'd be physically punished.