The Crypto Revolution Is an Existential Crisis for Video Games – VICE

The Crypto Revolution Is an Existential Crisis for Video Games – VICE

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.  

“What a cruel world we live in that people are compelled to commodify something so pure and essential to the human experience as play,” said Fred in an interview with Waypoint.

This all made for an awkward moment when Fred, interviewing for a high-level position at a new studio founded by a group of veteran game developers, was informed the developer was likely interested in incorporating the blockchain into their game. Nothing about crypto was mentioned on the studio’s website. Fred said he wouldn’t have applied in the first place otherwise. Twice last year, Fred discovered that a game studio and potential employer was interested in incorporating the blockchain into its games only during the interview process.

“[They] waited until halfway through an hour phone interview to mention ‘something kind of controversial for some people’ referring to using the blockchain,’” said Fred. 

A follow-up email from the potential employer included links to articles like “Would Karl Marx Support the Existence of Blockchain?” before Fred politely turned down the job, and noted that any involvement with crypto was a non-starter. In response to Fred’s decision, the company’s CEO sent a personal essay about why the blockchain is cool, including asking Fred why someone could reject cryptocurrency but “support fiat currency aka USD.”

Waypoint has spoken with developers at Electronic Arts, Zynga, Behaviour Interactive, Ubisoft, and others. Each of these companies is either actively using or considering crypto in its games. Across the board, developers Waypoint talked to described internal turmoil and disapproval over what’s seen as dollar signs guiding executive-level decisions that seem to add little to the already wildly popular medium, and if anything, present a threat to how and why games are currently made.

Video game companies were still interested in hiring Fred despite their anti-crypto position. But it added a new layer of complexity to a job search that went beyond the normal criteria of “does this project sound cool, will I be paid appropriately, are the benefits good?” The underlying culture and ethics of a company are important but often hard to parse from the outside. Crypto, then, …….