I’m working on a longer piece about the social impact investing landscape in Brazil, but I wanted to quickly share my response to a clip I pulled from an interview on Derrick Broze’s “The Conscious Resistance Network” page. It’s short, only 90 seconds. In it Broze touches on what he considers problematic uses of blockchain as well as positive use cases. He says that poor children having the chance to get paid to play video games to cover necessities for their families – he mentions repairing their homes – was a good thing. I could not disagree more. This post fits within a much larger story of data-colonial predation by social impact investors targeting the children of Brazil and Rio De Janeiro’s favelas in particular.
Full interview here.
Here is where Broze says I defamed him and lied about his position. I presume he means my tweets stating his support of “play to earn” gaming schemes, that are promoted by the World Economic Forum, were “not cool.”
I am adding a few screenshots from Derrick Broze’s Telegram feed. They clarify his position regarding online child labor in the gaming space. I remind you these comments relate to the clip above and are about “play to earn” crypto gaming schemes targeting poor children in the Global South. Regarding consent – can children give consent in online spaces for transactions? Who is to say these spaces are safe? To me, enterprises like “Splinterlands” look like rackets that siphon money to the top. This doesn’t look like a space where children should be earning a living.
Broze’s written response here.
More on the crypto-colonial project. A piece from a Splinterlands field agent setting up operations in Morelia, Mexico, home of The Greater Reset.
Update: adding one more post from another Broze collaborator who’s pushing the tokenized attention economy for “content creators.” These people keep saying I’m divisive when in fact I’m simply offering a counterpoint to their blockchained world. I do this, because I firmly believe their efforts are harmful to children and natural life on earth. They seem unable to respond substantively to my well-researched arguments and instead devolve into attempted character assassination and name-calling. Well, it won’t work, because my conscience is clear. I ask you to think really hard when deciding whose counsel to hold close to your heart. It’s difficult to take seriously someone who would write this in response to a serious critique of child labor in the crypto-gaming space. I’ll leave you to be the judge.
Today Broze tweets that these are “false claims.” All I have done is share screen shots and original content from Broze and his colleagues about their Splinterlands pilot in Morelia, Mexico and Broze’s views on children (including pre-teens) as “sovereign” agents who can engage in consensual digital labor and economic transactions. You can see that for yourself in the screenshots above. My goal is not followers. My goal is clarity about what this “resistance” movement is actually about.
Nothing I have done misrepresents Derrick Broze’s stated position thoroughly documented above. Tellingly he chooses not mention that my effort was to document his position on digital child labor, child self-ownership, and blockchain gaming backed by a Singapore VC aligned with a United Nation’s poverty alleviation program.
Inciting threats against me. January 5, 2021
This individual Eric Mackie was arrested in 2017 at age 18 for arm attempted robbery in a Boston suburb. I made a video about it. This is the news story about the incident.
So Derrick Broze’s close friend contacted me – acknowledged everything I said about Internet of Bodies, human capital Finance, targeting of children yet still wanted to make the case for blockchain. He’s into decolonizing. I sent him this and told him it didn’t count. pic.twitter.com/fZcw2Nt8Us
— Alison “A Particular Activist” McDowell (@Philly852) January 6, 2022
Shared with me on Thursday, January 2, 2021. I exchanged 22 emails over three days, most of which had multiple of the above screenshots from Broze attached. CAF = Catherine Austin Fitts
Kenny is the author of this blog post about Derrick, Splinterlands and Morelia. Evidently he’s looking to walk back his language around age of consent for crypto-child labor.
More grumpiness from Kenny over me “dividing the movement” on account of digital child labor.By the way, I always include the original links – his blog post, again. I trust adults to be able to make their own assessment of who is up to what.
We’re reaching the stage when the storylines of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, Cory Doctorow’s For The Win, and Alex Rivera’s Sleepdealer are being realized. Ubiquitous connectivity is required before the twinned world can be fully built out. Thus, the “digital divide” storyline often takes center stage when people discuss implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals, particularly as it applies to youth. They are the ones who, through device-mediated “social mobility” and “digital inclusion,” will be compelled to bring the digital empire to life one rented PC, one financed phone, one VR headset, one app, one NFT at a time.
With the rise of phone-based games, including Garena’s popular Free Fire battle royale, and cyber cafes reaching into the poorest neighborhoods, vulnerable youth are being recruited into the Metaverse by social entrepreneurs like Afrogames, its parent Afroreggae, and their affiliated corporate sponsors. With an estimated $2.3 billion US dollars in revenue projected for 2021, Brazil is the largest video game market in Latin America and the twelfth largest in the world. Most of the gaming is mobile phone based (47%) with console and PC gaming 29% and 24% respectively.
Hundreds of millions of “free” game downloads with carefully groomed celebrity players like Bruno “Nobru” Goes garner tens of millions of hours of eyeballs watching their Twitch streams. Amateur gamers have started to stream content using mirrors and phones over Tik-Tok’s livestreams as it requires minimal set up and is low-cost. Kids with bleak economic prospects in the favelas have latched onto the idea that they, too, might catch a break and become a paid e-sports personality. One training center launched in 2019 with a second coming online soon and an e-sport arena for favela tournaments is in the planning stages. Afrogames is framed as a social mobility enterprise that uplifts identity of favela residents and also of girls in gaming.
Ricardo Chantilly, co-founder of Afrogames and music industry professional, sees e-sports as the new rock and roll. Instead of teens getting together to form a band, they start an e-sports team. At LAN Centers high-end PCs can be rented by the hour, attracting young people who want to hang out, share tactics, participate in tournaments, and where they can be recruited for training as professional players. A feature in the Taipei Times describes Augusto, a young man who had been apprenticing in construction as a stone mason. He abandoned that path in order to start a gaming channel with Afrogames. Now instead of paying to play, he’s paid a basic income stipend of about $200 per month to play and train five days a week with about a hundred other people. Players also access classes in programming and English. The project is supported by Globo, the largest mass media group in Latin America.
A January 2021 article in the E-Sports Observer states that Afrogames has partnered with the Rio De Janeiro Secretary of Sports, Recreation, and Youth. Children who participate in the program have access to trainers, psychologists, and mentorship programs. But how much data is collected on players’ physical and mental performance and where does it go? What are the ethics of creating a digital economy that expects youth to play first-person shooter video games so their family has enough to eat? It’s as if these battles royale have become today’s gladiator tournaments. This is happening in communities traumatized by perpetual gun violence, including violence carried out by the state.
A feature discussing e-sports investments in Rio’s favelas by Beatriz Miranda and Luiz Quieroga, closes with an observation that private money flowing into these gaming ventures is unlikely to result in structural change for impoverished youth, but the few touched by that money may experience improved self-esteem. That seems to be the gist of the perspective Glenn Greenwald articulates in the Domise interview. We’re not going to solve the problem, so it’s just better to accept what’s offered by billionaire donors and corporate sponsors and hope it improves the lives of that handful of kids who get lucky. How do adults justify refusing to do the revolutionary work of at least attempting to fix the problems of the real world for the rest of these young people and future generations? Are we simply going to set them up with a digital wallet, walk them over to the portal of the Metaverse, and abandon them to their fate?
The following clip on “reality privilege” is from a 2017 interview with Marc Andreessen. He sits on the board of Facebook, and his wife, Laura Arrillaga, helped create the field of social impact investing in partnership with Stanford University and the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. I will be writing more about MakerDAO’s partnership with the World Bank to run social impact youth training programs for coding and blockchain in Rio’s favelas. E-sports, video game design, smart nano-materials, fin-tech, digital ID, and Metaverse normalizaton are intertwined topics. Adoption is advancing rapidly, faster than most people can process the implications of the combined package. Andreeseen’s VC fund maintains a significant investment in MakerDAO.