Getting paid to play video games might sound like a dream to some.
But if the rise of “play-to-earn” games is anything to go by, the reality looks far more like a nightmare. Take the gamers in the developing world who found a new way of earning a living with these games — before, in many cases, getting the rug pulled out from beneath them.
Despite this litany of failure, one crypto advocate has an even more ghoulish suggestion: exploiting the wealth gap in the developing world to fill future games with human-controlled non-playable characters (NPCs).
“With the cheap labor of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs,” Mikhai Kossar, an NFT gaming consultant, told Rest of World.
These NPCs could “just populate the world,” he said, or “maybe do a random job or just walk back and forth, fishing, telling stories, a shopkeeper, anything is really possible.”
In short, it’s a demeaning and tragic vision — and one with precedent in the blockchain world.
Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn game that allowed gamers to collect tradeable crypto tokens by playing it, became a way to make money when hard times hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Philippines in particular, where the average income is low, thousands of gamers found a new way of earning cash by mining in-game currency in Axie Infinity and trading it in for real-world, fiat money.
Despite games like Axie Infinity becoming victims of the crypto crash — the game’s tokens became practically worthless earlier this year, with its in-game economy collapsing like a house of cards — crypto advocates are already wondering what’s next.
And as Kossar’s comments go to show, there are visions even more twisted.