With this year’s Game Developers Conference returning to a live format for the first time since the pandemic began, there’s a full home for the Game Developers’ Choice Awards of the year. now on. Host Osama Dorias began an opening monologue with puns and nods about the biggest stories in the video game industry today. The audience warm-up work culminates when Dorias hits out at one of the game’s most controversial topics.
“I promise, no NFTs at all,” he quipped, prompting loud applause and cheers from the crowd — the biggest performance of the evening.
If you watched that moment via live stream, you might assume that this year’s GDC was the haven of a buzzword that has swirled around the industry like a hurricane over the past year. That is not the case. Amid countless consoles, display booths, and even banners promoting “play for money” games, Web3 advocates and blockchain believers have announced their presence in the world. this year – whether they match or not.
GDC 2022 acts as a perfect microcosm for the video game industry as a whole right now. It’s like two conferences competing against each other. On the one hand, it is a space for traditional game makers to mobilize change and connect with each other after years of separation. On the other hand, this is a summit for techno-idealists eager to chart a new direction in the digital world. Both emphasize the importance of community, although they couldn’t be further apart.
What can be replaced?
A quick glance at this year’s GDC presentation schedule revealed several discussions on every modern technology trend, from NFT to the metaverse. In between tables on games like Halo Infinite and Deathloop, attendees can participate in discussions such as “How Web 3.0 Transforms Games for Free to Play” and “What is Trustworthy? NFT Developer Discussion. ”
It was a popular point of discussion throughout the week, but maybe not in the way expected. The mere presence of such conversations drew glances and indignation from the attendees. Some have scolded the conference organizers, arguing that they are wasting precious time on stage on speculative technology rather than video game engineering. Others seem to have attended the tables to grab unbelievable audio clips and slides to share with social media. I heard the word “crazy” used to describe Tuesday night’s game-for-money debate, in which a speaker discussed the advantages of digital asset leasing like asset.
The biggest takeaway from GDC is that even though those articles about Web3 and NFT popularity are dwindling, there is a new wave of blockchain games being developed through funding/partnership with major game companies, with the aim of addressing the initial criticism.
Just one direction up https://t.co/4LlXbtWyN3
& mdash; Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) March 25, 2022
The NFT conference I attended early Wednesday morning was more civil. That conversation didn’t play out into an empty room, as one might expect after hearing the topic being received at the awards ceremony. It was a rather crowded conversation with four speakers (three of which had personal NFT projects to plug) and an audience full of curious listeners who lined up to ask questions. sincere question at the end.
Despite the perception that all crypto projects and supermarkets are empty scams, there are those who seem to truly believe in the technology’s potential beyond dollar signs ( that, or they are very persuasive people). In fact, “play for money” was mostly seen as a dirty term throughout the week, with proponents of renaming the concept “play and earn”. Many people I have spoken to repeat this term, treating the controversial “buy and sell” aspect of the NFT as secondary.
Instead, supporters at the event offered a more lofty vision for the future of gaming – a vision in which the rare equipment a player earns in a game cannot be denied. lost forever by a random backend error. In the panel I attended, the speakers emphasized the ownership aspect of NFT and blockchain technology, setting off a utopia where players own their items, not corporations. For anyone walking into a conference without prior knowledge of the heated debates surrounding the technology, it should be easy to understand how pitching can work.
Build from scratch
While the discussion surrounding the potential of the technology is ambitious through the show, the actual projects on display have not always lived up to the hype. The exhibition floor is filled with booths displaying games with early concepts and images. That’s especially true in the “super island” space, where deformed people sit in mundane virtual rooms.
That disconnect is probably best typical of a conference I’ve attended. A speaker gave a Ambitious pitch for NFT and how they were able to completely reinvent the game. However, the project she’s working on is one that simply allows people to own fictional pets that in theory (a word is the asterisk on most of the project’s pitches). judgment) is performed between the inverted spaces. Neopets 2.0 wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, although a bit more complicated for the project.
GDC’s running theme is that companies and developers want to get in on the ground floor of emerging technology, but they can. Execution plays the second most difficult role for speculation. Several speakers likened the current play-for-money trend to the free-to-play boom and are determined not to miss the game’s next big moment. While some claim it’s not for the money, it’s hard to buy enough of that when compared to the game’s most lucrative strategy.
The rush to capitalize created some general confusion on the show floor. Many booths promoted the idea of NFT 2.0 in some form, casting shade on the current iteration of the technology in their pitches. The word “metaverse” is becoming more and more meaningless. The show’s funniest moment of silliness occurred when I passed a booth that had the tagline “Number 1 Super Inverse Blockchain for Gaming and NFT” – a popular word bingo.
That headache was further compounded by mixed messages from advocates. Speakers at the NFT panel spent some time highlighting how technology enables ownership, taking power away from companies like EA. Finally, one person asked how that would work when it comes to IP and copyright, which led to a speaker suddenly doing 180 degrees to explain that buying an NFT is inherently not meant to be. you own anything – the companies that make them still set forth terms about what ownership means.
It was easy to see why skepticism was rampant among the attendees. It’s not entirely clear what future is being created, as some advocates attempt to build the hull while others head straight for the smokestack.
The most tone-deaf moment in my panel was when a speaker expressed confidence in future NFT adoption, noting that you don’t see players complaining about Overwatchof the loot box too. It is a statement disconnected from fact considering that OverwatchThe loot boxes that have spurred a major legal debate over gambling see this activity banned in Belgium. Minimizing legitimate players’ concerns only adds to the coals, justifying the feeling of lack of trust.
One skeptic on the panel offered the best, arguing that technology solves nothing, only replacing one form of hypercapitalism with another.
All the discussions about making our lives digital stand out especially because a big part of this year’s conference focused on the human side of the industry. The show introduces panels on topics such as inclusive recruiting, four-day workweeks, and neural divergence in game development. CODE-CWA has a large booth on the exhibition floor, putting the discussion of unionization at the center. Feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian offered a flashback to the 10-year video game series Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which confronts the work that still needs to be done on sexism and segregation. Race is ingrained in the industry – a talk that ended in tears and literal hugs with attendees.
Despite the large presence, metaverse, NFT and web3 are not central trends at GDC. Instead, it’s how developers can make the industry a safer place for everyone. It’s been an essential theme this year, especially considering the continuing wave of misconduct allegations at studios of all sizes.
Both sides of the conference saw the importance of nurturing community, but in completely different ways. One wants to create new digital spaces to connect players, while the other wants to fix the broken system that creates such worlds. There’s no reason the two can’t happen at the same time – this isn’t a new impetus for GDC – but seeing them side-by-side underscores the reality of how much work still needs to be done before we can begin to pool players into a blockchain-powered metaverse that will inevitably reflect problems outside of it if not picked up.
A speaker at an NFT conference I attended gave her best assessment when she firmly stated that introducing technology to gamers first was a mistake. Her rationale is that heavyweights are historically hardcore and that energy would be better spent flirting with tech enthusiasts, although that doesn’t appear to be the main reason. which proponents might want to step back in space a bit. Rather, technology like NFT is creating noise in an industry that is in dire need of focus right now. For many, the distraction at GDC 2022 has diluted the community repair that really needs to take place at the first in-person conference in three years.
Maybe there should be a satellite MDC (Metaverse Developers Conference) next year, where tech-idealists can meet in virtual rooms and leave physical rooms open to those wishing to change. change the real world.