Developer turns ‘future of gaming’ talk into surprise attack on convention’s NFT and blockchain sponsors

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Game developer Mark Venturelli received a standing ovation at the Brazil International Games Festival on Friday after surprising the audience at his “Future of Game Design” talk with a new headline: “Why NFTs Are A Nightmare.” It was a strong statement against the push of blockchain in gaming, one of the most controversial trends this year. The list of festival sponsors for 2022 includes several NFT and blockchain companies, including Lakea and Ripio, and the festival lineup included panels from these sponsors, such as “Web3 and the Next Generation of Games”.

Venturelli, who is best known for the game Chroma Squad, didn’t just push back against those talks by calling NFTs a nightmare: he went into great detail that they’re bad for the game and go directly against his vision for the future of the game. motive.

In a follow-up interview with PC Gamer, Venturelli said the event’s blockchain sponsors need to “buy their relevance, because they’re irrelevant.”

“These people are strangers here, they are not important,” says Venturelli. “They’re just trying to buy their relevance because they have no real influence on the future of our industry. If you give them that space unchallenged, you’re giving them exactly what they want and buying their narrative that ‘they are relevant.’

Even before a recording was available, Venturelli’s speech went viral thanks to a Tweeter (opens in a new tab) describing the moment he announced his real name and the applause that followed his speech. “It was a bit of a gimmick,” Venturelli admits. “I start, ‘Hey, this discussion is about the future of the game’. And then I start talking about it, and I go, ‘Well, actually, I tricked you!’ This conference is not about the future of game design, because I start talking about all the trends I’ve seen in my 15 years in the industry, and now we have new trends, let’s talk- in. of the conversation and say, “Why NFTs are a nightmare.”

Venturelli has now shared a recording of his presentation on YouTube (opens in a new tab)and while the talk is in Portuguese, you can read an English version of the accompanying slides (opens in a new tab).

The cheeky reveal of the tiles may have come as a surprise to audiences, but Venturelli made sure to clear it up with festival organizers beforehand. As controversial as his speech was clearly going to be, BIG organizers did nothing to censor the speech or prevent him from having a say, although that didn’t mean he was popular with some of the sponsors. “Web3” from BIG. BIG had yet to provide an official statement on the discussion as of press time, although PC Gamer has been informed that a statement will be provided on Monday.

“I heard the sponsors were really angry,” Venturelli said. “They tried to intrude on the conversation while I was talking, but the organization wouldn’t let them. It doesn’t surprise me, because the organization at no time did censored, didn’t she stop me from putting whatever I wanted on the slides. I gave them access to the slides before the lecture. There was never any intention on their part to silence me or anything like that.

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Venturelli’s Nightmare

When Ubisoft announced it was foraying into the world of NFTs and earnable video games, selling NFTs in the form of headsets that players can wear in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the video racked up an extraordinary number of dislikes. Even the French trade union Solidaires Informatique criticized the program. Nicolas Pouard, Vice President of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab, defended it, saying, “The end game is about giving players the option to resell their items once they’re done with them or ‘they’re done playing the game itself.

“That’s such a naive proposition,” Venturelli retorts in our follow-up interview. “The expectation versus reality here is so strangely remote, because what’s really going to happen is that organized groups are going to operate and evolve at ever-shrinking margins, and push everyone away. Because that’s what’s happening. If you play EVE Online or Runescape, or any other game that simulates the economy, that’s what’s happening. Organized groups are gonna fucking crush you. What’s really gonna happen pass is that if you naively play a game and have fun – imagine that – then you want to sell your stuff, your stuff will be worth nothing It will be worth fractions of a penny, but what you give in return of that fraction of a penny is that you’re completely helpless now. Your fantasy, your ability to impact the world as an individual is gone, because now it’s controlled by these guys.”

One of the earliest criticisms of NFTs and other uses of blockchain was the environmental cost of their energy inefficiency. In its critique of Ubisoft’s plan, Solidaires Informatique called blockchain a “useless, expensive, and ecologically mortifying technology.” NFT projects in particular have quickly become savvy enough to use phrases such as “environmentally friendly technology” in their press releases, but none of them address the deeper criticisms of their ideas. This is what Venturelli focused on in his speech and in our follow-up interview.

There’s the startling resemblance between these profit-driven scams and pyramid schemes, but there’s also the philosophical concern that things like cryptocurrency represent a libertarian ideal grounded in paranoia about institutions and others. Human being. That, Venturelli says, partly explains why they’re so ineffective in the first place.

If we boycott it and don’t go, we pretty much concede defeat.

Marc Venturelli

“Computing, like in real life, if you don’t trust the people you work with, you have to expend a lot more energy to achieve the same things,” he says. “If I live with you in the same house and we do not trust each other, I must, each time before leaving my house, hide my valuables. I must take inventory of the things I have, and can -be put cameras or locks inside things. When I get home, I have to check everything and see if you’ve disturbed my things, and make sure you don’t come into my room while I sleep and all that shit.

“It’s so much energy that I have to use just to exist in a room with you, because I don’t trust you. I think that’s a really good metaphor for how blockchain computing works and what is the underlying philosophical idea behind it, which is, “We want a world without any kind of centralized authority because we can never trust any of them.” And that’s the opposite of what we want as a society, in my opinion.”

Second Life creator Philip Rosedale had similar things to say about blockchain gaming projects when he spoke to PC Gamer earlier this year. (opens in a new tab).

Sponsorship of the BIG festival by NFT and blockchain companies was highlighted ahead of the event in an article by Rique Sampaio (opens in a new tab), the journalist whose tweet about Venturelli’s speech went viral. Venturelli says independent designers in the Brazilian scene were in favor of boycotting BIG in response. Venturelli obviously disagreed, so strongly that he gave his speech even though he had Covid (by videoconference).

(Image credit: The Tonight Show)

“If we boycott it and we don’t go, we pretty much concede defeat. We just say we lose. We can’t do that. We have to do the opposite. In fact, I don’t think that the organization of the event is pro-crypto, pro-NFT I know them personally, I am an adviser to the board of directors of Abragames [the Association of Brazilian Game Developers Companies]. My opinion against crypto and NFT is not majority at Abragames, but it is important that I represent this opinion there. In the same way it is important that we go there and that we occupy the space that is offered to us. Not just for me, but for a lot of people in the indie scene in Brazil. I was on the side of “Hey, let’s challenge this, use the space, let’s speak our mind against this”. Otherwise, the [blockchain companies] are going to do a monologue there.'”

This was largely the case with the BIG-sponsored talks. “They were basically spouting their shit on the main stage, just saying, ‘Hey, crypto games are super cool, they’re going to be awesome. People don’t understand, or the previous generation of crypto games gave it a bad name, but a new generation coming is going to be awesome!’”

By challenging the space, Venturelli and everyone who speaks publicly about NFTs and the boilerplate blockchain hype that has made its way into gaming spaces turns that monologue into dialogue. And Venturelli doesn’t think upsetting a few of the show’s sponsors will hurt him in the end.

“I don’t feel like I hurt BIG by talking shit about NFTs,” Venturelli says, “because BIG doesn’t need those guys. It’s the other way around.”

Investors currently see potential value in South America due to exploitable political and economic instabilities, which for Venturelli means presenting your counter-argument is more important than ever.

We are currently experiencing a crisis of confidence in Western society.

Marc Venturelli

“If we don’t occupy certain spaces and we let these kinds of people occupy those spaces, suddenly they’re dictating what the future is, suddenly they’re taking the investments to build our next big projects,” did he declare. said. “That’s when it starts to get really dangerous, because it can jeopardize our future as an industry, in my opinion. Because I don’t feel like these things have any long legs. I feel like they might succeed in the short term, but they’re going to fall short in the long term for sure.”

Venturelli finally brought back his speech about the future of game design, adding that he had everyone fooled again – he wasn’t there just to rag on Web3. Venturelli’s indie studio Rogue Snail is working on a looter shooter called Relic Hunters Legend that puts some of its ideals into practice, attempting to build trust and community among players with “more human” F2P monetization and a system group research built around helping others.

“Right now, we are living in a crisis of trust in Western society – trust in each other, in institutions and even in our future together is on the decline,” says Venturelli. “We should build systems that help connect people and build trust, build lasting solutions, and build infinitely scalable human solutions. We shouldn’t stray away from culture, entertainment and storytelling towards economic activity. We should not simply eliminate the last of the hiding places that we must flee from the oppression of capitalist society.”

You can find The Future of Game Design conference on YouTube (opens in a new tab).

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