For some, it’s a vision of utopia. For a thousand more, it’s unmistakably a dystopia. But it’s really just a speculative LinkedIn post about the potential future of “blockchain” gaming, which has gone viral across multiple social media platforms when folks started mocking what they see as its offensively absurd predictions.
The main character of the day is Nicolas Vereecke, an investor at Bitkraft Ventures, a venture capital firm that counts the likes of Discord, Epic Games, and a number of blockchain-based studios among its portfolio. Last week, Vereecke posted a vision of what gaming could look like nearly a decade from now, if all the promises that proponents of blockchain say will come true actually do come true.
“The year is 2030,” it starts. “It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon. You’ve just finished mining 30 obsidian ore playing Crypto Crush Saga, a match-3 mobile game.” The post then goes on to outline how you theoretically take that obsidian ore and bring it across multiple games, using it to forge a weapon in a game called The Elden Chains Online and upgrade a building in a game called Clash of Guilds. Later, you hop into a raid with your guildmates, who’ve been grinding their weapons for two weeks, for a 5% chance to acquire an Immaculate Orb of Brilliance (“of which there are currently only four in existence”). The orb will supposedly “give your guild a great advantage” in an upcoming space sim. (None of the games cited here exist, by the way; all are purely hypothetical.)
Much like everything else in the Venn diagram of crypto and video games — whether we’re talking Square Enix selling off beloved developers to fund blockchain efforts or retailer GameStop leaping into the NFTs just as the market plummets — Vereecke’s post was widely criticised on social media.
“Absolutely dying,” independent game developer Devon Wiersma tweeted alongside a screencap of Vereecke’s post. Wiersma’s tweet instantly went viral; it has since been “liked” nearly 40,000 times. The quote-retweets are particularly merciless. Many initially assumed it was parody before reaching the end and realising, nope, it’s sincere. Some teased that this grand vision of gaming’s future simply sounds like…an MMO. On Reddit, one person shared a screenshot of Vereecke’s post, describing it as “enabling the worst gaming experience I’ve ever heard of.”
Others described joke (?) hypotheticals, including one in which you’d run out of ammo in the middle of a Halo firefight, pop into Skyrim to gather materials, then boot up Minecraft to forge those materials into Halo ammo…only to have your servers crash. Womp, womp. Or there’s this scenario: “You get attacked by a Dark Beleiber which turns your Obsidian ore into penises. Your friend cannot forge your weapon now, as Elder Chains bans penises. You complain, but nobody is managing the resources beyond logging transactions. All hail penis crypto.”
The vision Vereecke outlined, critics say, has a number of logistical roadblocks. Even if you could create an item in one game and bring it across to other games, and even if you could only do so with blockchain-enabled technology, you’d still need developers to actually code it across, which sounds like a whole lot of additional work heaped on already overworked employees. And then there’s the fun factor — y’know, the whole point of playing video games. All of this sounds like a slog, as if you’re turning your hobby into a task that spans hours per week across months or potentially years. (It’s unclear if players would get paid for these endeavours. Vereecke declined to comment to Kotaku.)
The post, however, is somewhat of a microcosm of those ballyhooed digital bubbles you sometimes hear about on CNN and your extended family’s Facebook pages. Yes, it’s getting blasted on Twitter and Reddit. But on LinkedIn, Vereecke’s post was received more positively, racking up several hundred “heart” and “thumbs up” reacts. One person shared that meme of Futurama’s actually-in-the-future Fry holding (non-crypto) currency and shouting “Take my money.” Another called it “ridiculous,” but only because in their estimation there’s no way it’ll take eight years for gaming to hit this point.
For posterity, here’s Vereecke’s original post in full:
The year is 2030. It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon. You’ve just finished mining 30 obsidian ore playing Crypto Crush Saga, a match-3 mobile game.
You open up The Elder Chains Online and feel a rush of excitement. Your buddy from school has spent the last 2 years becoming a Master Blacksmith, and he has agreed to turn 10 obsidian ore into an Obsidian Battlestaff, a HUGE upgrade over the Mithril Mace you’ve been wielding for the last weeks.
It’ll take him an hour or so. In the meantime, you hop into Clash of Guilds, and use the remaining obsidian to upgrade your town hall to the next level. That should keep your village safe for now.
You wish you could fast forward time to tonight. Your Guild has plans to go for a deep run into the wilderness in Old School Rune Chains, and your prospects of a successful run (and great loot) have never been better.
All members have been spending the past 2 weeks grinding for better weapons, and you’ve agreed (through a vote) to use the Guild treasury to buy everyone a new full set of Red Dragonhide Armour.
Tonight’s objective is to kill the level 128 Frost Giant hiding in the Cave of Sorrow. He has a 5% chance of dropping an Immaculate Orb of Brilliance, of which there are currently only 4 in existence.
The Orb can be used as a power source in an upcoming space exploration game, and should give your guild a great advantage in reaching distant galaxies first. A 5% drop rate is low, but you’re feeling optimistic.
In the distance, you hear a faint ‘BloCkChAIn doEsNT bRiNg AnYtHiNg nEW tO gAmES’. You shrug, and join your friends in the Discord voice channel.
Life is good