A 54-year-old prisoner at the Jixi labor camp in the northern province of Heilongjiang said he was forced to play games on the internet in order to build up credit that was traded by his guards for real money, a practice known as “gold-farming”. In an interview with the Guardian, the prisoner said online gaming was a far more lucrative activity for the managers of the labor camp than the physical labor the inmates were forced to do. “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor,” he said. “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 a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turn off. He added: “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.” It is estimated that 80 per cent 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. Raising large amounts of credit in online games through the use of multiple accounts and individuals is known as "gold farming." The practice is typically frowned upon due to the nature of the work and the fact that those involved are usually paid very little. The problem is especially widespread in China, where the government was forced to ban the practice in 2009, though it continues to be an issue to this day. Chinese officials have denied the allegations, and insist that because playing an online game would constitute "contact with the outside world," prisoners would never be allowed to engage in such activity.