A common thread linking my complete revulsion for all things blockchain and AI is the sheer inhumanity of it all. Devotees of these techbro causes are so focused on technology, profits and market forces, while remaining oblivious to their effects and consequences, that at times it feels like they have become completely disconnected from the human experience.
We’ve covered this to death over the last couple of years, from failed NFT experiments to the looming spectre of AI-generated art, but today I wanted to draw your attention to one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen committed to print in the name of future technology.
This terrific feature on NFT and crypto gaming, focused mostly on Minecraft servers and Axie Infinity (womp), is by Neirin Gray Desai, and you should definitely read the whole thing over on Rest of World for a great—if also incredibly bleak—look at the markets surrounding “play to earn” games.
But there’s one section that truly stands out, and made me stop dead in my tracks reading it:
Mikhai Kossar, a chartered accountant and a member of Wolves DAO, a group that consults with NFT gaming projects in the early stages of their development, told Rest of World that some players will always go wherever they can make more money. “They will play Pac-Man if they can earn more,” he said.
According to Kossar, NFT renting mechanisms in play-to-earn games are important to keep them accessible to poorer players. “You have people that have money, but don’t have the time to play the game, and on the other hand, you have people that don’t have money but have time,” he said.
He sees a future, however, where guild ownership and management could upend the model of wealthy Western players managing those in low-income countries. “Filipinos could band together to buy some assets and then rent them out to themselves and make money that way,” he said.
But he also envisions NFT games that could exploit the wealth gap between players to deliver a different experience. “With the cheap labor of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs (“non-playable characters”), real-life NPCs in your game,” said Kossar. They could “just populate the world, maybe do a random job or just walk back and forth, fishing, telling stories, a shopkeeper, anything is really possible.”
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Let me be very clear here when I say I wish nothing but the worst for everyone involved in this group.