Developer surprises festival attendees with anti-NFT talk

Mark Venturelli's talk was supposed to be on the future of game design, and instead became an anti-NFT rally.
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Brazil’s International Games Festival was scheduled to play host to a talk about ‘The Future of Game Design’ delivered by Chroma Squad developer Mark Venturelli on Friday – but what it actually got was a rallying cry against NFT games. The talk reportedly began as normal, with Venturelli discussing the ‘future’ of gaming, but several minutes in, the real title of the show, ‘Why NFTs are a Nightmare’ was unveiled.

The dramatic reveal was celebrated with applause. This despite the original talk being described as a discussion on future technologies like NFTs and the blockchain, and how they will impact gaming. In a biting monologue, Venturelli attacked the predatory nature of NFT peddlers and the environmental cost of the technology, while claiming they’ll effectively turn video games into ‘sweatshops’ – rather than fun and creative slices of entertainment.

The talk itself was delivered in Portuguese, but an English version of the presentation slides is now available for browsing. In them, Venturelli directly addresses many of the justifications that NFT enthusiasts attempt – including statements like ‘you just don’t get it.

To that, Venturelli had a simple response: it’s not that complicated.

Read: Ubisoft VP says players ‘don’t get’ why NFTs are good

He also addresses the matter of investment. As NFTs are such a new and speculative technology, they’ve invited a raft of big spenders to the table – but given this is largely based on unstable and unproven economies, the argument quickly falls down. NFTs, such as they are, are inflated by overblown hype.

According to Venturelli, the NFT talk sparked outraged from a number of parties. He told PC Gamer that some wanted to ‘break into the talk’ while it was going, to stop him from discussing the technology.

‘I’ve heard that the sponsors got really mad,’ Venturellia said. ‘They tried to break into the talk while I was talking, but the organisation would not let them.’

In an extended interview, he spoke of the existing challenges with NFTs, and discussed why it was important to speak loudly, and in public spaces.

‘If we boycott it and we don’t go to it, we’re conceding defeat pretty much. We’re just saying we forfeit. We cannot do this. We need to do the opposite,’ Venturelli said. ‘Let’s contest this, let’s use the space, let’s voice our opinion against it. Otherwise, the [blockchain companies] are going to be monologuing over there.’

While the International Games Festival was not strictly an NFT and blockchain game conference, it was reportedly sponsored by several organisations with crypto interests, which makes Venturelli’s bait-and-switch a bold and admirable move. In a show reportedly filled with hype around these emerging technologies, it was a much-needed dose of clarity.

You can check out the talk for yourself here, but note there are no English subtitles currently available.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.