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Is Axie Infinity’s Play-to-Earn Economic Empowerment or Exploitation?

Has decentralized gaming just created virtual menial labor?

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On this episode

Join hosts Adam B. Levine, Jonathan Mohan and Andreas M. Antonopoulos as they dive into the world of Axie Infinity and the growing global meta economy. Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-esque play-to-earn game on the Ethereum blockchain, has exploded in popularity around the world. The primary user-base has remained grounded in the Philippines as Filipinos from all walks of life buy, borrow, breed, trade and fight in-game non-fungible token (NFT) characters called “Axies.”

These fighting cartoon pets have earned players legitimate money – in some cases, enough to sway workers to quit their jobs to pursue Axie full time. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, especially in places like the Philippines, only make Axie that much more enticing. Individuals and groups with more capital have also snapped up Axie opportunities in the form of “scholarships” and lending schemes.

Axie Infinity, and in particular,the lending schemes, prompt a larger conversation about the ethical implications of exporting work and the geographic inequality of opportunities. In the best light, lending within play-to-earn can be seen as providing opportunities with profit orders of magnitudes higher than local economies could provide. Yet, viewing the practice from a different angle, it can be seen as richer countries farming out low-paying work to individuals who have no better options locally.

Is Axie Infinity a solution or scam? Will the platform maintain its relevance or fizzle out?

This episode featured Adam B. Levine, Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Jonathan Mohan. It was edited by Jonas, our theme song comes courtesy of Jared Rubens and today’s music during the break was Delta by Gurty Beats. Today’s album art features a photo by Karen Fedida/Unsplash, modified by Speaking of Bitcoin.

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