The Crypto Revolution Is an Existential Crisis for Video Games

It was a good time for Fred, a video game developer, to look for a job.  COVID-19 has made video games more popular than ever, but that popularity coincided with the entrance of cryptocurrency and its byproducts, like NFTs, into the mainstream. Crypto talk is everywhere, and Fred, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing their career, is not merely indifferent about NFTs—he’s firmly against them.  


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xgd78d/the-crypto-revolution-is-an-existential-crisis-for-video-games
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Not just for video games.

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My employer (a Large Technology Company) had a lot of words about blockchain a few years ago but they haven’t really done anything with it since, fortunately). I imagine there is some amount of R&D fiddling going on at any number of Large Technology Companies, but you’d need to find a use that can’t be replicated with existing technology.

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Crypto and crypto-evangelists have been extremely successful in targeting both the knowledge-poor subsections of the middle-class, and a specific kind of tech guy who doesn’t actually know how to write code and calls himself an ‘entrepreneur’.

My old boss left the company he founded to mostly post web3 evangelism on LinkedIn. Recently he pitched a tokenized Sales platform designed to reward positive behaviours with tokens, and instead of a monthly fee, the developer would simply own and sell said tokens to users for distribution to their employees.

Not only is this a great way for the developers to get companies to buy company scrip to continue to use a platform that said developer also makes, it would be near impossible to support because baking tokens into the functionality of a software platform that will break during the normal course of operation is insanity. Imagine that AWS goes down and now Salespeople aren’t getting paid for the “good behaviours” because the lever on the skinner box you’ve built has broken?

Nevertheless, a bunch of 40-something guys with names like ‘Craig’ and ‘Founder’ in their bio were absolutely salivating at the prospect. This shit is catnip for the people in Tech who have never had to actually build or support the things they’re selling.

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“a specific kind of tech guy who doesn’t actually know how to write code” feels like a greeting card to my impostor syndrome lol

But I didn’t even think about the possibilities for company scrip. No wonder why all these developers are blinded with dollar signs - their clients would give them a small fortune if they never had to pay bonuses ever again. Heck, my employer currently is paying bonuses with what is essentially company scrip that’s actually redeemable for stuff - imagine what sort of nonsense they’d pull if they only had to hand out digital funny money instead.

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Pretty sure the kind of guy being referred to here literally has never even tried to learn how to code and is only aesthetically into tech stuff. The kind of guy who thinks Elon Musk is Tony Stark even though Elon hasn’t meaningfully contributed to anything any of his companies builds and couldn’t identify the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation or any of Maxwell’s Laws if his life depended on it.

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I can’t decide if it’s baffling or the most human thing ever that countless people feeling the boot of capitalism on them who once fancied themselves immune to such a thing have decided not to remove the boot entirely, but that monkey jpegs will make it so that they wear the boot.

Crypto is explicitly designed to be deflationary. Deflationary currencies have been tried, the more people engage with such an economic system, the more it deflates. It was called The Gilded Age and the people pushing crypto want to be the new Barons. Money needs to lose value or eventually, no one can afford to have much of it except the early acquirers of it.

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And so to blunt environmental criticisms, some like Ubisoft use what’s called “proof of stake” blockchains, which are more energy efficient.

Can we please stop parroting this talking point unchallenged? It’s simply not true in any meaningful real-world sense. So-called “eco-friendly” proof of stake-based blockchain is not better. It does nothing to address the fundamental problems with the technology. For a start, it wagers a modest savings in energy consumption (compared to proof of work algorithms) for a massive decrease in security. Proof of stake literally means prove that you have a lot of stake in the blockchain. This gives all the power to the majority holders of a particular coin and functionally entrenches that power for the early adopters. If someone amasses enough stake, they can fabricate whatever transactions they want. Cool feature, bro!

Furthermore, the bulk of the savings in energy consumption are due to the fact that proof of stake-based cryptocurrencies simply aren’t very popular and their chains aren’t very long. Much of the energy savings would evaporate if any of them got as big as Bitcoin or Ethereum, both in the minting of new coins and in the validating of transactions. The fact that Ethereum has been promising to switch to proof of stake for years is telling. “Green” crypto is a red herring. It’s scams all the way down.

CC: @patrick.klepek

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Yeah, I am admittedly not up on my crypto but isn’t the point that you’re either factoring or creating really really big semiprime numbers? If your chain doesn’t have a lot of links on it, your semiprimes aren’t going to be all that big

Obligatory Line Goes Up: Line Goes Up – The Problem With NFTs - YouTube

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Love the foldable man

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It’s worth elaborating that not only has Ethereum been promising to switch to PoS for years, they’ve been promising to do it “four or five months from now” for years. It’s never going to happen, it’s purely a shell game to dodge environmental criticisms.

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I would assume that the relative ease of controlling a proof of stake system is a feature-not-a-bug to software developers. You don’t, you know, actually want to decentralize control over the speculative asset you created.

That brings us back round to blockchain not creating any actual new opportunities or solving old problems, but that’s not the goal here now is it?

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So, I did have some input in a crypto community many years ago - and it was suspicious how completely uninterested the entire community was in this flaw of Proof of Stake, almost as if the actual distributed trust thing wasn’t as important to them as getting richer.

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