Alienation of Digital Labour on Online Games among College Students in China


  • Dongke Pan
  • Ammar Redza Ahmad Rizal
  • Shahrul Nazmi Sannusi



In the internet era, online games have become an important industry and an essential tool for leisure, socialisation, and self-actualisation. However, this appearance obscures the economic and commercial attributes of online games. Game companies rely on players to add value to their products through a digital capital operation model. In China, college students, the main audience of online games, are embedded in the game industry chain for digital labour and become unpaid producers. This study employs questionnaires and interviews to investigate college students who play online games. It situates digital labour in China's economic and social context to investigate college students' alienation from online games. The results show that players ostensibly enjoy leisure and entertainment but are reduced to free labour for the gaming platform. Under the rules of the gaming platform, players lose control of sociality, control of platform, control of data, and profits, and the behaviour of playing online games is eventually alienated into digital labour. This alienation has also produced a series of adverse effects, such as physical and mental health damage and game addiction.


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How to Cite

Pan, D. ., Rizal, A. R. A. ., & Sannusi, S. N. . (2023). Alienation of Digital Labour on Online Games among College Students in China. Migration Letters, 20(S10), 825–843.




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