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2022: Special Issue: Ludomaterialities

Losing the Game: How Blockchain and NFT Technology Turns Games Into Work and Destroys Humanity in the Process

November 15, 2022


In this first op-ed, we want to comment on the relationship between certain phenomena of crypto technology – mainly non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – and the gaming world. As one can easily miss the forest for the proverbial trees by getting lost in the financial and technological minutiae of the topic, we deliberately focus on the broad strokes, contextualizing recent developments at the intersection of gaming and cryptocurrency. Even though these might be painfully obvious for anyone observing the discourse and culture around it, we nevertheless feel the need to provide an explicit counterpoint to the notion that NFTs and crypto in general offer exciting or promising technological innovations or that they might be a harmless, nerdy trend. As we will show, the rise and fall of crypto is revealing of a larger trend pervading online, technological, and especially financial cultures as well as of harsh truths about the neoliberal project. These broader insights will remain vitally important, even as current crypto products continue to fizzle out.