Many folks may not have heard of Mark Venturelli, a designer for the turn-based strategy title Chroma Squad and founder of developers Critical Studio and Rogue Snail, but his name may earn some infamy after he turned a panel about game design into a direct attack on blockchain and NFTs – at an event that was sponsored by blockchain and NFT companies.
The panel in question, called “The Future of Game Design,” was part of Best International Games Festival in Brazil (aka BIG Festival 2022), which earlier had panels from the event’s blockchain sponsors that were unsurprisingly effusive about Web3, NFTs, and blockchain in gaming. A few minutes into the panel, Venturelli unveiled the real subject of his discussion – “Why NFTs are a Nightmare” – and talked in detail how the scheme turns games into sweatshops or salt mines as well as how blockchain is anathema to actual game design.
In a later interview, Venturelli continued to lambast the hawkers of blockchain and NFT tech in gaming. “These people are outsiders here, they’re not important,” he said. “They’re just trying to buy their relevance, because they have no actual influence over the future of our industry. If you just give them this space uncontested, you’re just giving them exactly what they want, and buying their narrative that they’re relevant.”
The flipped script earned him applause from panel viewers and some reported anger from the event’s sponsors.
It’s worth noting that the stunt was cleared with those running the event, which made sure that Venturelli’s message was heard despite attempted intervention by the festival’s blockchain sponsors: According to Venturelli, those sponsors tried to break into the panel to shut it down but were denied entry by organizers. “That doesn’t surprise me, because the organization, not at a single point did they censor me,” he reports. “I gave them access to the slides before the talk. There was never any kind of intention on their side to shut me up or anything like that.”
The video of the panel is available below, though it’s (obviously) in Portuguese. Those who want to follow along can check out some English slides provided by Venturelli himself.