I spend a lot of time these days studying the gaming industry. I’ve read a few books on the subject recently and am almost finished with another. And I actively keep up with trends in the space. Here are two stories that continue to remind me just how big this industry is.
Minecraft Is Part Of The School Curriculum In Stockholm – story
Apparently the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm has a class for 180 13-year olds in which they play Minecraft in order to “learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future.”
My kids are hoping that we’ll let them study abroad when they turn 13 ;)
Chinese Prisoners Are Forced To Farm World Of Warcraft Gold – story
Less funny but equally true, prisoners at the Chinese labour camp, Jixi, were forced to play World of Warcraft so their guards could profit.
“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.”
Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.
But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.
“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,” he said.