Saudi gamers using “up to 10,000 Indian labourers” to build vast online Minecraft cities
New BBC documentary alleges workers are living in squalid conditions in online labour camps
The filmmakers secretly recorded footage in several camps built in Minecraft, a popular internet-based video game set in an open world in which players can construct vast cities from pixelated resources.
The game has proved a huge hit in Saudi Arabia, but the documentary will reveal what it terms the ‘Craftier Side of Minecraft’, in which players from the country have employed thousands of labourers from across the Indian subcontinent to build their worlds for them.
The programme alleges that many of the workers were lured over with the promise of high salaries and fulfilling work, but most have seen their pay packets drastically cut and positions involve repetitive click-orientated labour.
“I’ve got a degree in advanced engineering, but I’ve spent the past two years moving polygons from one spot to another and bashing through squares of dirt,” claims Anuj Anawink, a 37-year-old from Kerala who wished to remain unnamed. The documentary makers also managed to speak to several hundred workers who had been stranded within Minecraft by employers who they claim “simply tired of the game when they can play bingo for free and upon the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and moved on.”
Most of these workers, it says, have been left without their passports and unable to leave the game.
“I’ve been waiting for my documents and at least four months wages for over a year now,” claims one interviewee. “We’ve all been living off pixelated apples for six months.”
Despite the allegations made in the documentary, much international attention has already been made of the structures being built by the Saudi Minecraft community, including the Mushroom Kingdom Tower, set to be the world’s tallest online construction when it is completed in 2014, and the 65-kilometre long Mall of Minecraft.
Game devotees across the world, however, have criticised the developments, many labelling them ‘crass’, ‘tacky’ and ‘ostentatious’. Others have even suggested that the buildings are to blame for a recent slowdown in gameplay, with the Minecraft servers unable to support their sheer scale.
“The Saudis always have to go one step too far,” claimed Helsinki-based Minecraft commentator Sven Svenburg.
outraged of Arabian Ranches
July 18, 2012 at 4:45 am
When will these British journalists stop bashing Dubai?!!? It’s a great place to live and if you don’t like it, just GO HOME!!!!
July 18, 2012 at 8:15 am
Its about Saudi not Dubai….
August 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm
Also, despite this being a cleverly constructed analogy, the analogy is still true. Cities are being built on slavery and no one in the world gives a damn.
June 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Slaves in USA, slaves all over Europe. History. Eventually all things change. Just give it time.
January 14, 2013 at 8:30 am
April 29, 2013 at 5:48 am
One of the best stories yet.
June 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm
Epic. Anuj Anawink really tickled me! My compliments to the “journalist behind this story”
June 25, 2013 at 10:42 am
Poor Anuj, he didn’t want to be named and they put it in. I hope he doesn’t get into trouble and be sent to jail (perhaps they could use the one in the online monopoly game). My company is going to adopt all the labourers for Ramadan and we will be sending them shoe boxes with extra credit, gold rings etc very soon.
June 27, 2013 at 4:11 am
Whats a labourer??
Bread & Butter Pudding
June 27, 2013 at 4:14 am
A labourer – is a meduim sized orangy long haired dog with a gentle mabber and soft furry nose.
June 27, 2013 at 5:20 am
Whats a labourer???
Umm Ali's Umm
June 27, 2013 at 5:21 am
Well, what is a labourer??????????
April 11, 2014 at 9:07 am
English motherf***er, do you speak it?