Why has Twitter Suspended @Splinterlands?

Splinterlands is a card battling game, similar to Magic the Gathering, built on the Hive Blockchain.

The general idea is you buy cards (summoners and monsters) and then select a team (one summoner, up to six monsters depending on ‘mana’ and then you battle an opponent.

The Splinterlands Market Place looks like this….

If you win the battle, you get points and prizes, and rise up the leaderboard, and the higher up you finish, the more prizes you get at the end of every season (which lasts 16 days).

And you can see an example of a battle here:

The company was founded about four years ago by two independent individuals who go by the names of @aggroed and @yapabmatt on Hive.

Their account on Hive is here – @splinterlands.

It is one of the biggest business success stories in the crypto industry and also very successful by the standards of the online gaming industry as a whole.

NB – this is THE MOST POPULAR crypto game by a long way, with an active user base of over 7000 and market valuation in the several millions of dollars.

All of this has been done from the ground up, with the two founders employing dozens of people to code and market the game, and setting up a clever rewards system in-game to encourage people to invest in cards to play the game. The top players make a living out of playing!

AND UNLIKE WITH MAINSTREAM GAMING – IF YOU BUY CARDS TO PLAY THE GAME, YOU OWN THE ASSETS, YOU CAN SELL THEM TO OTHER PLAYERS.

This is one of the most empowering initiatives in the history of gaming and blockchain, truly decentralised, truly inspiring, truly innovative – there are several developments ongoing… the game is EVOLVING.

The Splinterlands team have made active use of Twitter, being careful NOT to break any of its rules, but recently this: they have had their account suspended..

.

Why is Twitter censoring this small business from advertising?

It can’t be an anti-crypto thing because it allows all sorts of crypt content.

From a broadly Marxist perspective on the Media, this is a case of Twitter gatekeeping out, or censoring alternatives to the mainstream gaming sector – in mainstream gaming you have to pay to play and you don’t OWN anything, you the little guy cannot profit from gaming (expect for the very elite few who becoming pro-gamers).

But Splinterlands shows us a different model – it is based around individuals OWNING AND CONTROLLING the direction the game takes – in a few days time, Splinterlands is going to start airdropping governance tokens based on how much you’ve already Vested into the game, and these tokens will allow players to have a say in future developments.

Just think about HOW DIFFERENT that is from mainstream gaming or mainstream media.

Could it be that Twitter just can’t handle genuine individual autonomy and decentralisation?

Video Games Disorder: Just Another Moral Panic about Gaming?

The World Health Organisation recently included ‘gaming disorder‘ as a new mental health disorder in its latest updated draft version of the International Classification of Diseases.

The disorder has not yet been formally recognized as a condition, it’s under review over the coming year.  Not everyone’s convinced that it actually exists: the gaming industry is especially skepital, tending to view this as a moral panic reaction to parents’ raised awareness and dislike of their children spending longer on games such as Fortnite.

Is ‘gaming disorder’ must a moral panic reaction?

What is ‘Gaming Disorder’?

You can read the full definition here. It breaks down into three main elements:

  1. impaired control over gaming
  2. increasing priority given to gaming, such that gaming takes precedence over other hobbies/ interests and daily activities
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

In order for it to be diagnosed, the WHO is suggestion that it needs to be observed over a 12 month period and have resulted in the declining ability of an individual to function in one of more are of social life, such as at work, or within the family.

What’s the evidence base for its existence?

Dr Vladimir Poznyak is one of the main defenders of the idea that VGD is a really existing phenomenon. He points to the fact that the last few years have seen a rising number of cases of ‘gaming addiction’ in several countries around the world, and some governments and charities have even set up treatment programmes, along the line of gambling addiction programmes.

He outlines in his case in this article.

NB – In his defence, Dr VP does say that <1% of gamers are ever likely to suffer from gaming disorder.

Problems with the concept and the evidence… 

UKie CEO Dr Joe Twist argues that the WHO definition is based on questionable evidence, and when pushed WHO officials are quite vague about what exactly it is they are worried about.

For example, it is unclear whether certain genres of games are more ‘addictive’ than others, or whether certain triggers (such as rewards structures) within games are the problem…

This episode of ‘Click‘ on iPlayer does quite a good job of summarising the issues surrounding gaming disorder.

What do you think?

Personally I think it’s perfectly reasonable to establish a new disorder, especially when the WHO is clear that it effects only 1% of users – I mean, check the definition, we are talking about SEVERE addiction here. Even someone who plays 40 hours a week wouldn’t necessarily be classified as having gaming disorder.

I think its fairly clear that some computer games have addictive features, which are going to affect a tiny minority in a negative way (very similar to gambling), and the games industry needs to recognize this rather than just ignoring the fact that their products create serious problems for 1% of users.

Having said that, maybe we do need further research which pins down particular genres and features…?

Image source.