The mind virus known as “NFTs” continue to haunt us all, but we can now point the finger at the true culprit behind crypto mania: MMORPGs. According to an online bio, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin first became disillusioned with the global capitalist order when Blizzard nerfed his favorite spell in World of Warcraft. This, of course, was the tiny domino that eventually led to your mother-in-law asking you if what she calls “dog coin” is a good investment.
“I happily played World of Warcraft during 2007-2010, but one day Blizzard removed the damage component from my beloved warlock’s Siphon Life spell,” the bio reads in part. “I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring. I soon decided to quit.”
Digital wizardry — This bio was first spotted by Google engineer Thomas Shadwell and picked up by multiple gaming outlets. Buterin’s passion for WoW was well-documented in a 2017 Wired article, where the programmer stated that he views powerful institutions like major corporations and governments like “Mr. Burns sitting behind their desks saying, ‘excellent. How can I screw a thousand people over this time?'”
While it’s unclear if Buterin is exaggerating the role that WoW played in the development of his worldview for the sake of a joke, it’s pretty clear that he’s not a fan of centralized power. If this is all Greek to you, Ethereum is the technology that powers NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which are digital representations of ownership of digital files like photos, videos, and audio. (Think of them like a certificate of authenticity, only everyone can also download the file.) The name “Ethereum” is also commonly-used to refer to the platform’s cryptocurrency, Ether.
Paradigm shift — On a technical level, Ethereum has a lot of advantages over Bitcoin, and there are some interesting applications for the technology. However, there’s still the uncomfortable fact that Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to use alarming amounts of electricity, consuming more energy combined than the entire country of Thailand.
Ethereum plans to switch to a new model (dubbed “Ethereum 2.0”) that will apparently cut its energy footprint by more than 99%. This shift is extremely risky and difficult to implement, so we’ll believe it when we see it. Still, if you’re tired of NFT cash grabs getting blasted to you on social media, you know who to blame: video game developers. Given Buterin’s worldview, it was probably only a matter of time before something pushed him towards the blockchain, and given everything going on at Blizzard — multiple botched game launches and an ongoing sexual harassment scandal — perhaps we should give them a pass on this one.