Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Players in developing countries could work as NPCs in wealthier players’ worlds, according to one game consultant.
“With the cheap labor of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs (non-playable characters), real-life NPCs in your game,” said Mikhai Kossar, who is a chartered accountant and member of WolvesDAO.
Kossar told Rest of World that players in developing countries could “just populate the world—maybe do a random job or just walk back and forth, fishing, telling stories, a shopkeeper, anything is really possible.”
According to WolvesDAO’s membership application form, its mission is to “equip the blockchain gaming sector with key insights, education, and tools to build the games and communities of tomorrow.”
That future community, apparently, could be a dystopian one.
Some find the idea of making real-life people across the globe roleplay as automaton-like NPCs dehumanizing.
“People are coming up with fresh ideas for how citizens of the Third World can be put to productive use by wealthy Westerners,” wrote long-time video game journalist Andy Chalk. “It's an odious idea, perfectly in-character for the NFT field, and literally the dictionary definition of exploitation.”
It also raises questions surrounding the ethics of Web3 gaming more generally, where “scholars” in developing countries already play with NFTs they can’t afford to own in play-to-earn blockchain games while NFT owners reap a percentage of the profits.
The potential for sentience, and the ethics of exploiting NPCs as disposable beings, has been a staple of science fiction, recently explored in HBO’s “Westworld” or last year’s Ryan Reynolds-led Hollywood action comedy “Free Guy.”
But roleplaying as an NPC isn’t necessarily dystopian in every context. Gamers in roleplay (RP) servers for “Grand Theft Auto V” like NoPixel, for example, already volunteer to act as characters who work in various positions in the virtual world. Whether it’s as a mechanic, a stripper, or a bartender, they’re effectively roleplaying as NPCs for free. Some RP servers are highly curated, with waitlists of hopefuls wanting to get in.
When it comes to paid metaverse employment, there’s also a whole world of virtual jobs in games like ‘Roblox,’ which doesn’t use any cryptocurrency. But some argue that ‘Roblox’’s underage creators are being exploited and don’t take home the wages they deserve.
As metaverse worlds come to market, so too may a whole new realm of employment—but some jobs are sure to raise more eyebrows than others.
Kossar has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.