How Big Are The Virtual Sweatshops In China?

from the playing-games dept

It may sound like an ideal job for some: playing video games all the time. However, when you have to do it all day every day, and you have strict quotas it isn’t always so much fun. It’s one thing to have it as a summer job, but when it’s a full time job involving twelve hours a day, seven days a week with your bosses watching over your shoulder all the time. Over the summer we wrote about the Chinese video game sweatshops that employ young Chinese video game players to generate virtual goods and players that can be sold on eBay for quite a bit of money. Now, the NY Times has a more thorough article looking at the video game sweatshop phenomena, noting that there may be thousands of such sweatshops — though, they don’t really try to quantify how much they’re making. The defenders of the practice note that those playing the games probably don’t have many better employment opportunities. However, as one notes at the end, it seems like at least some of those involved know that this is a temporary gig. The market for such products may collapse, the video game companies may crack down on such accounts or (most likely) the Chinese government will look to shut down the gaming operations. In the past, they’ve had problems with internet cafes, and recently announced that online games need to incorporate a three hour curfew to keep people from playing too long. That would certainly slow down the sweatshops ability to pump out virtual gold.

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Comments on “How Big Are The Virtual Sweatshops In China?”

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Howard (user link) says:

Internet curfew?

The Chinese government may impose a curfew, but there is little or no chance that it will be effective. Corruption is the only thing that allows a communist totalitarian economy to function at all. The more communism, the more corruption required for economic survival. The Chinese video-game sweatshop industry will simply find ways to circumvent any such curfew. Underpaid government law enforcement is trivially easy to bribe and/or outsmart.

In my dealings with Chinese businesses, I have seen evidence that corruption is a way of life over there, and is considered just one of the necessities of doing business.

Violins, violas, cellos, and accessories

PhantomCircuit says:

What happened to all that chinese enginuity?

I thought they where supposed to have tons of really smart tech people all waitinng to flood the US with cheap labor!

Oh wait if they had any sort of intellegence they woudl write bots to play for them instead of hire a buncha retards to play all the time, (bots can always make more than a person unless a bug occurs).

And that ladies and germs is why im not afraid of chinese cheap labor, it’s stupid (and no not the idea the labor itself).

Frank says:

China is communist? LMAO.

I find it amusing that some of you think China still has a communist economy. You might want to step away from the video games and catch up on the state of the world. China is totalitarian in government, but communist in party name only these days. Economically, they are now fully capitalist, which is why they have the fastest growing economy in the world. If you think otherwise, you are far behind the times.

PhantomCircuit says:

Re: China is communist? LMAO.

see the funny thing is that in the ‘real’ world you are wrong, commnism no longer means communism, it is commonly used to describe any government which has a single party (which it clearly is not). The only reason i said it was communist was that most peoepl would identify it more clearly than totalitarian.

the chinese economy is not capitalistic, the government exerts complete control over the economy in order to artifically inflate it, they keep the relative value of the yuan incredably low compared to the USD in order to maintain a competative advantage. a capitalistic economy does not have such strict government controls

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: China is communist? LMAO.

“chinese economy is not capitalistic, the government exerts complete control over the economy in order to artifically inflate it, they keep the relative value of the yuan incredably low compared to the USD in order to maintain a competative advantage. a capitalistic economy does not have such strict government controls”

You are a moron who has no knowledge in economics. By your definition, Japan and Hong Kong were not capitalistic pre-1990 because they also pegged their currency for an export driven economy. As of this point, every government on earth enforces labor laws and economic control, ever heard of the federal reserve? As of this moment, China is in the raw capitalism of the robber baron era, it is much more capitalistic than say europe.

George says:

My experience..

I suspect this to be true.

I play a popular online game, and I’ve seen on the most populated servers when it’s daylight in the eastern hemisphere, there are hundreds if not thousands of traders standing around all trying to speak english, and most of them trying to sell their in-game items offline for real money.

It is disturbing, as it does take away from the spirit of what the game is supposed to be about. Yet I suppose though if that’s the only way of making money over there, then I can understand why they do it. Not agree, but understand.

me says:

use bots instead

Most of the workers are actually just monitering the bots, making sure people dont get suspicious, like if an admin messages you then the worker just stops the bot really quick, answers, then continues. And actually its not just morbidly obese people who play video games, but if it takes you 4 months or so to get 100 billion gold or whatever on world of warcraft its just easier to buy it for 5 bucks and save 4 months of your life.

Jessica Smith (user link) says:


My opinion only being 14 my opinion can mean alot.
In order to al least slow down the product making is to start by not buying the product. Plus we have to make at more of a stand then just publishing info on the internet.
Tell people, organize a boycott. Even we need to have people go over there and help. We need to clean places up. Organize other job offers that pay more money and treat people like there humans and not dogs. Make better jobs. Do fundraisers to suplly money to at least by the factory away from like walmart and other buisness. Take away the gold from the buisness and then take action. If we can take away the gold and lessen the money the buisnesses get. they will be week. When there week we take action and go towards it. With buisnesses being poor they’ll want our money. We can by the buisness to make it a better place. At least even clean u the area. Make Better wages for the people.

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