Early Morning Open Thread: Gresham Wept

Unlike Mr. ‘Every Boomer Nerdgirl’s First Crush’, the Guardian reports that China uses prisoners for WoW goldfarming:

As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
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.”…
The trading of virtual currencies in multiplayer games has become so rampant in China that it is increasingly difficult to regulate. In April, the Sichuan provincial government in central China launched a court case against a gamer who stole credits online worth about 3000rmb. The lack of regulations has meant that even prisoners can be exploited in this virtual world for profit.
According to figures from the China Internet Centre, nearly £1.2bn of make- believe currencies were traded in China in 2008 and the number of gamers who play to earn and trade credits are on the rise. It is estimated that 80% of all gold farmers are in China and with the largest internet population in the world there are thought to be 100,000 full-time gold farmers in the country…

The comments after the article suggesting/demanding that British prisoners be set to gold-farming are just classic intertron lamers, but there’s a certain poignancy to the WoW gamers lamenting that gold-farming for profit has deflated the value of virtual currency.

39 replies
  1. 1
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Rampant Inflation! What we need is a return to the Gold Sta-wait, nevermind.

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:


    There. I said it.

    Now this makes me curious if the people who claim to be from Australia and other countries are who they say they are. My brothers may have to do some poking around here although I think their enthusiasm for WoW is waning.

  3. 3
    THE says:

    This is my favorite Gold Video:

    Ennio Morricone–Ecstasy of Gold

  4. 4

    so wait, if every nerdgirl’s first crush was spock, what does this say about the desirability of emotionally unavailable men?

  5. 5
    Scott says:

    They can’t do anything to regulate gold-farming, but they sure as hell can regulate petitioning the government to stop corruption in people’s hometowns. (siiiiigh)

  6. 6
    Warren Terra says:

    Forget about gold farming, and virtual currency:

    Utah has passed a law intended to encourage residents to use gold or silver coins made by the Mint as cash, but with their value based on the weight of the precious metals in them, not the face value — if, that is, they can find a merchant willing to accept the coins on that basis.

    That’s from A New York Times story. All in all, it looks like a bit of a tempest in a teapot; it’s really quite a stupid law, but it’s not binding on merchants or otherwise meaningful or enforceable – just red meat for one especially stupid fringe of The Stupid Party.

    Still, the story is chock full of things that had me giggling:

    They say that it is just a beginning, that one day soon Utah might mint its own coins, that retailers could have scales for weighing precious metals and that a state defense force could be formed to guard warehouses where the new money would be made and stored.

    Because I dunno about you, but not only am I fully qualified to assess the percentage gold content in the metal on my scales, I am also fully confident that the kid I give a part time job working the cash register can do the same. And the warehouses and their especially wacky Wackenhuts sound like a hoot.

    Craig Franco, a coin dealer south of Salt Lake City, said he was finishing an arrangement with a bank to create a depository through which people will be able to spend their gold and silver indirectly, by using a Visa credit card that makes charges against the value of their holdings.

    Note the use of the word “credit” there, not “debit”. This is, among other things, a way for the bank to issue money based on imaginary gold. That’s right folks – if the goldbugs play around with their notions long enough, they’ll reinvent paper money!

  7. 7
    Warren Terra says:


    There. I said it.

    I can’t be the only person who, when reading this plaintive cry, imagined it autotuned.

  8. 8
    R-Jud says:

    @Warren Terra: Jesus. I was reading about coinage in Iron Age Britain last night, and carrying around scales is exactly what they used to have to do back then. Will there be punishments for clipping coins eventually, too?

    Where’s Tom Levenson? I don’t know whether he’d be giggling or groaning.

  9. 9
    Donut says:

    @Warren Terra

    No, sir, you certainly were not the only one to do that.

  10. 10

    @Warren Terra:

    I can only imagine how this will complicate things for dancers at SLC’s best gentlemen’s club THE American Bush.making it rain, just became a rain of terror, and gold! then there is the re-rain of terror, fool them once, shame on you, fool them twice, fool’s gold!

  11. 11

    @Warren Terra:

    One of our especially stupid wingnut state senators in Tennessee wanted us to have our own currency and he filed a resolution asking us to waste state time and money studying the issue.

    Someone please tell me how we can rid our politics of these idiots and get back to just dealing with the usual idiotic conservatives?

  12. 12
    Yurpean says:

    Most depressing news of the year so far:
    ‘Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.’
    The planet’s basically fucked.

  13. 13
    Walker says:

    As has been mentioned by many game designers:

    When your game economy is such that it can be assigned as a punishment to prisoners, that is a pretty good indication that your design sucks.

  14. 14


    The planet’s basically fucked.

    I saw that. I think we can stop talking about trying to stop the warming and start to work on how to cope with it. Sigh.

    And, if you would like to be further depressed, Japan’s problems just keep growing:


    [“That’s right, children. Once upon a time, there were people living on that island. They were called Ja-Pa-Nese.” :-( ]

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    This is one of those stories you read and wonder if you are actually awake, and it is part of the real world.

    This is a story which were it a plot for a heroic team of rescuers to save the prisoner rock-crusher / gamers would be dismissed as silly and unrealistic a premise.

    This is a story which would take a long, long time to explain to my WWII vet neighbor.

  16. 16
    PaulW says:

    Oh lordy.

    Next time I log onto City of Heroes, I’m going into Freedom server and openly asked at the AE building which of those f-ckers are Chinese prisoners.

  17. 17
    El Cid says:

    Terrorists holding a nation hostage make their demands more specific before once again falsely claiming to be willing to detonate the debt ceiling:

    WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that the Medicare reform plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would be “on the table” with respect to negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.
    “We are going to discuss what ought to be done,” McConnell said during an appearance on Meet The Press. “I can assure you that to get my vote to raise the debt ceiling, for whatever that is worth… Medicare will be a part of it.”
    Using the Ryan plan as an option for debt ceiling negotiations is a new marker for GOP leaders, who have long insisted legislation should include strict spending caps. McConnell’s remarks suggest not only that GOP leadership is looking for cover for the party’s Medicare voucher proposal — forcing Democrats to either support elements of the plan or risk default — but also that the two parties may be moving further apart as that deadline nears.

    Will our government grant the terrorists much of what they want, only to find that the demands escalate more — while only we have to experience the damage the terrorists cause?

    Or will the target of the terrorists’ ire call their bluff given that their vital lines of support in the financial and corporate community will not allow basic financial stability to be threatened?

  18. 18

    @El Cid:

    On the same topic, Robert Reich:


    Why is the Tea Party winning? Wall Street and big business hold the purse strings in the GOP, but the Tea Partiers are now the ground troops. House Republicans need those ground troops to get out the vote in 2012. And they figure Wall Street and big business will stake them regardless of what happens. But Boehner and his colleagues are playing with fire. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised and the financial system begins to collapse, the GOP loses not only Wall Street and big business. It loses everyone who’s still sane.

  19. 19
    khead says:

    Maybe they should just play Tecmo Bowl instead.

  20. 20
    Jazz Superluminar says:

    @El Cid
    I like that “everything’s on the table”…except for tax increases! I must have had soshulist teachers who taught me the wrong definition of “everything”.

    @Linda Featheringill

    I think we can stop talking about trying to stop the warming and start to work on how to cope with it.

    No, even whilst we sort out coping with the changes that will undoubtably happen, we still need to stop pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s not either/or, but both at this stage, and depressingly we don’t look to be making progress on either front.

  21. 21
    jeffreyw says:

    If the debt ceiling isn’t raised and the financial system begins to collapse, the GOP loses not only Wall Street and big business. It loses everyone who’s still sane.

    Alas, not the threat to their majority as I would wish.

  22. 22

    OSU coach jim tressel apparently resigned, according to twitter reports.

  23. 23
    Gravenstone says:


    The planet’s basically fucked.

    Can’t be said often enough, the planet will be fine.It’s the biosphere that’s in for a painful ride before it re-equilibrates.

  24. 24
    gnomedad says:

    Hilarious video is hilarious. Thanks, AL! Live long and prosper.

  25. 25

    @Jazz Superluminar:

    Stopping the warming and coping with it:

    You’re probably right.

    So. How are we going to cope with it? At my house, we have started weaning ourselves off of wheat and beef is already a special treat. I don’t think that rising sea levels will threaten me personally folks living on the shores will have to deal with that. Electrical use will increase and probably become more expensive and I can’t afford to invest in solar panels or windmills. Fruits and vegetables in the winter are likely to become very expensive and bean sprouts only go so far.

    All of these things I mentioned are personal measures. Have we started implementing systemic, society-wide measures? Don’t think so.

  26. 26
    khead says:


    He’s been a dead man walking for a while.

    The good news is car dealers in Columbus might actually make some money this year.

  27. 27
    Alex S. says:


    My grim, last hope: We run out of oil before the planet turns into Venus (or, to be more realistic, Arrakis).

  28. 28
    Joel says:

    Beats hard labor.. except the fact that these prisoners have to do hard labor and play this stupid game chingo time…

  29. 29
    Bostondreams says:


    There is never a good reason to log into Freedom server. Stick with virtue, where all the catgirls are.

    Anyway, influence and infamy buying and selling is not, I think, a significant problem these days. Not on the level of gold in WoW..

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Let’s get one thing straight here:

    The planet will survive, unless someone with a death star comes into the system and seeks to make a point about defying the Empire.

    However, the species inhabiting the planet, to include the fucktard hairless apes, are in for a world of hurt.

  31. 31
    Hawes says:

    Since I see almost no videos anymore, I can definitively say that that was the best video of the decade.

  32. 32
    Hawes says:

    What is Ron Paul’s stand on the virtual gold standard?

  33. 33
    Liberty60 says:


    The planet’s basically fucked.

    If it were merely the planet!

    Sadly, the planet will continue on, as it has for 4 Billion years.

    The human race, well…maybe, maybe not.

  34. 34
    Liberty60 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Didnt see your post before I restated the same.

    This points to one of the weaknesses in the environmental movement message- that somehow we are doing this “for the planet”, which makes it into charity, the kindness we do altruistically.

    Messaging it as something we do for self-protection makes it more clear and urgent.

  35. 35
    Frank W. says:

    OMG! I have never seen this video before but loved it! As a child of the 60’s and a longtime Trekker, it was so great to see Mr. Nimoy having what looked to be a ton of fun. Thank you, Anne! Live long and prosper!

    Oh, as to the story itself… some humans are like big bears that eat their own young.

  36. 36
    PaulW says:


    There is never a good reason to log into Freedom server. Stick with virtue, where all the catgirls are.
    Anyway, influence and infamy buying and selling is not, I think, a significant problem these days. Not on the level of gold in WoW..

    That’s odd. All my catgirls are on Freedom (and most of my pirates on Pinnacle…)

    It’s not about the inf, it’s the XP and tickets that goes on with farming. I’m not too sure how that translates into real world coinage, but in-game making it from 1-50 so you can work on the Incarnate builds is serious business…

  37. 37
    rea says:

    Real life catches up with Charles Stross–see his novel Halting State

  38. 38


    i already saw one ohio state fan try to spin it as proof they aren’t a win at all costs program. uh, dude, or dudess,as the case may be,keeping a coach who is thouroughly compromised(for the time being, these taints wear off) would be more of a commitment to loyalty, and the program standing for something, sloughing off the coach because the next few years with him will suck, is winning at all costs…

    not that i care if ohio state gets rid of tressel, he probably isn’t as dirty as some, but not turning around and cheating some more would be a commitment to iintegrity, not that i think college football needs to have any more integrity than the econ programs, mind you, i am in favor of a no rules approach, let minor league football be minor league football, and let the schools that like student-athletes, or can’t otherwise compete, sort themselves out.

  39. 39
    Darkrose says:


    It’s not about the inf, it’s the XP and tickets that goes on with farming. I’m not too sure how that translates into real world coinage, but in-game making it from 1-50 so you can work on the Incarnate builds is serious business…

    Even with the way they’ve tweaked the leveling curve?

    Also, wow–someone else on Pinnacle? Which side?

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