Times Online reports sweatshops that produce gold or other currencies in online games are a new trend in China:
But this Shanghai sweatshop is not churning out T-shirts, trainers or children’s toys. Its workers are known in the computer games world as “gold farmers”. They are playing online games and winning virtual gold, which the owners of the gold farms then sell on to cash-rich, time-poor Westerners for real money.
Ge Jin, a PhD student at the University of California in San Diego, has filmed these scenes for a forthcoming documentary on the economics of internet gaming. He believes that hundreds of thousands of people in China are now dependent on gold farming for their income.
The gold farmers spend most of their waking hours in front of computer screens, immersed in complex, three-dimensional virtual worlds known as massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs).