Reflection 5: Workers in the Global South are making a living playing the blockchain game Axie Infinity

The Rest of World article by Victoria Elliott provides extensive insight into how the gaming industry has managed to lure players through incentives of cryptocurrency. Axie Infinity, the game that remains at the core of this news story exemplifies how games are becoming new platforms for blockchain technology to flourish. Nevertheless, NFT-centered games such as Axie Infinity have their own set of perks and shortcomings.

As the narrative of Philippine rice farmer RK Secretario suggests, Axie Infinity presents a new and innovative source of income, especially in critical times such as COVID lockdowns when the global supply chain came to a halt, leaving workers like Secretatrio uncertain about providing for their livelihood. The game iconizes NFT tokens in form of elements such as Axie characters and Axie Infinity Shards which players like Secretario can harvest over time, eventually trading them with other players and cashing the rewards in local currencies. Financial instruments such as “scholarships,” fund players who cannot afford to buy the game has also increased accessibility.

However, at the same time, challenges outlast the perks that games such as Axie Infinity can offer. Although it supports economically disadvantageous people in countries such as the Philippines and Venezuela, accessibility still persists as a predominating issue largely undermined by proponents of the gaming and cryptocurrency industry. As noticed in case of Axie Infinity, guilds can create a monopoly by setting a strict criteria on who can participate. For instance, prospective managers are said to be considering the location of players, the amount of time they can contribute to the game, and the strength of the internet, a basic utility that remains scarce in many parts of this modern world.