In case you needed another reason to keep crypto out of gaming, a new article on Rest of World chronicles an NFT scheme in Minecraft that roped in Filipino kids to make money for their parent company alongside open speculation about how people might be conscripted into menial service in online games.
The article in question looked at the rise of cryptocurrency farming in Minecraft prior to this past summer’s decision by Microsoft to shut that noise down hard. Prior to the move, one digital entrepreneur took advantage of the rise of NFT to make a quick buck: “One U.S. player, who goes by ‘Big Chief,’ described how his team, composed largely of young people in the Philippines, gathered building materials for him. He then paid professional Minecraft builders around $10,000 in crypto to turn those materials into a lavish casino.”
An NFT consultant interviewed for the piece speculated about other opportunities for digital employment suggesting developers and players “exploit the wealth gap”: “With the cheap labor of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs, real-life NPCs in your game. 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.” It’s really every bit as creepy as it sounds.
“According to [consultant Mikhai] 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.’”
While Minecraft has expressly forbidden these schemes, they’ve understandably prompted backlash from commentators and gamers.
Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett referred to the consultant as an “NFT gaming psycho” who’s “become completely disconnected from the human experience.”
“I would not only quit my job at a company that did this, I would do everything humanly possible up to and including wiping all source code depots I had access to, to ensure this sort of video game slavery is never implemented,” MMO dev Scott Jennings tweeted.