It’s certainly unusual punishment, if debatably cruel. Chinese inmates at a hard-labor camp say they were forced to play online video games by their guards. When they accumulated virtual gold, their guards would then sell it on the market for real profit. One former prisoner said that if he fell behind in his quest for gold, he would be beaten with plastic pipes. “We kept playing until we could barely see things," he said, adding that the practice was likely more profitable than the physical work prisoners did, which included trench-digging, car-component manufacturing, and chopstick whittling. Although the Chinese government nominally regulates commerce in virtual currency, it’s hard to track.