Crypto Gaming Isn't The Cause of Child Labor... A Reply to Allison McDowell's Attack on Splinterlands & @DBroze


Yesterday, a good friend sent me this link to an article by Wrench In The Gears, that is basically a hit piece on my friend @dbroze, for promoting @Splinterlands.

The article is rather full of unrelated points (because she admits that she's working on an article about a different topic), as well as a lack of understanding of blockchain, or the difference between #Play2Earn gaming and other styles of gaming.

Here's the full article: Poverty, Identity, and Child Gamers in Rio’s Favelas

Here's the interview that she's basing her attack on: The Activation #12: Fighting Economic Terrorism & Spiritual Warfare with Catherine Austin Fitts

Now, I'm going to do a bit of a point-by-point breakdown of her entire article, because it's pretty brief.

2021-12-24 09_56_41-Wrench in the Gears – A Critical Investigation into the Fourth Industrial Revolu.png

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.

Ok, so the very introductory sentences reveal that this is going to be a conversation about "social impact investing" (an obvious psy-op used by mega-corporations), but she's going to shift into a conversation about blockchain... And somehow opening up all new realms of abundance flow for people is a bad thing?

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.

It's interesting to me that she goes through and clips out a bunch of replies from Derrick, but leaves out any of the context or messages from other people. Good way to be able to twist things when you only offer a small part of the picture, eh?

So... Her argument is that Splinterlands and other #P2E gaming options are "targeting poor children in the Global South"

Because we all know that poor kids in third world countries have millions of dollars to spend on NFTs, right? This is obviously a ridiculous claim that these children are being "targeted."

However, are these children (or anyone else) potentially in amazing positions to help support their families & communities, by playing games?

Quite possibly.

One of the main things I've done over the last year is help others get started on Splinterlands, and I've gotten a lot of Magic gamers, or gamers of various digital kinds owned by corporations, and without player-ownership.

This is because it's so obvious to anyone who looks, just how amazing the opportunities in this realm are. If people are going to play games - should they be ones generating income for themselves - or for giant corporations?

Part of my upcoming trip to Morelia, Mexico, is going to be helping locals who are interested get set up on Splinterlands, and delegating them enough power and non-starter cards to be able to get up to real earnings... Because in a place where a full-time corporate job pays about 6USD per day - Splinterlands is actually a viable replacement!

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.

To her first question, obviously it depends on the child, because this is a really broad term being applied. Are we talking about a 15-17 year old computer genius? Or a 6 year old?

As to the part about Splinterlands - anyone who knows anything about this game, knows that one of the key goals of the team is to create as much value as they can for investors/players. Hence creating things like vouchers, the SPS airdrop, and so much more.

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.

So... The state is and will be forcing children (among others) to use things like ID2020 and jab-passports, pushing more and more into their tracked & controlled system?

Yes, obviously... But this doesn't have anything to do with the voluntary, decentralized, open-source alternative that is here with Blockchain & Crypto.

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.

Again, we've moved to discussing the opposition, the market that NFT & P2E gaming is attempting to replace, with actual ownership of products, and the ability to earn.

She's literally making the argument for blockchain gaming.

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.

Again, she's discussing non-blockchain, non-crypto, dinosaur-corporation gaming, and streaming.

This appears to be a complete bait & switch of an article.

She set up this idea at the beginning that Derrick supports the UN's Agenda 21/2030, these media mega-corporations, and their plans for a controlled metaverse... Because he was promoting Splinterlands.

Let's give that a moment to sink in.

Then, once she had "proven her point," about Derrick supporting "the problem," she dove into her explanation of the problem - none of which has anything to do with Blockchain, #P2E, or Derrick.

To be clear, I'm including all of her text, just leaving out images, so it's not like I left out whole sections that tied this together or something.

So far, at least... Let's keep going.

I'm just going to plug the last few paragraphs here:

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.

So, she never circles back, or in any way ties together these two completely unrelated half-articles.

I guess the argument is that, because some "crypto/blockchain" projects are controlled/owned by the same old organized crime syndicates, that must mean that everything to do with crypto or blockchain is bad!

But in reality, only at the very end did she even tie in anything related to a blockchain - the MakerDAO (not related to Splinterlands or P2E gaming), while the rest was all about non-crypto gaming companies.

The core emotional angle she was trying to play here was that Derrick is bad for promoting crypto, and crypto is bad, because it hurts kids?

She was using some extra steps and the transitive property applied without first proving at A does in fact equal B which does in fact equal C.

Giant corporations all around the world target children - for their poisonous food, their cartoons, their jabs, and yes - for their video games.

In Closing

There are a lot of folks out there who have been tricked into what James Corbett calls The Bitcoin Psyop - an intentional confusing of terms by the corporate media and governments.

If you're using a bank or credit union, a credit card, paying taxes, signing licenses, asking for permits, or buying into the fear - you are feeding the beast.

Crypto is a giant ecosystem of businesses, projects, and communities. Many of them are also feeding the beast.

But there are plenty of blockchains & crypto projects specifically fighting against that system, for a more decentralized and free world.

Since we all know that the plan is to go full digital money and everything else in just a few years to a decade, your option is either to use FedCoin & UnCoin - or the more decentralized, open-source alternatives like Monero, Haven, Lethean, PirateChain, Hive, and so many others.

I'm not sure whether Allison has simply been completely tricked by the psy-op, simply a luddite, or if she is controlled opposition - but it seems pretty clear that this was a completely un-grounded attempt at a hit piece on Derrick and on Splinterlands - as well as crypto & blockchain as a whole.

Again, here is the full article if you'd like to read it yourself, and see her images.


Someone who doesn't understand blockchain or cryptocurrencies attempts to draw a bunch of conclusions from her misunderstandings and then use those in an attempt to attack the character of an activist & journalist.

Edit: Synchronicity

The following video is today's weekly official Splinterlands Town Hall, and @aggroed actually addressed exactly the heart of this conversation, at the 26 minute mark (timed up:


This does sound a bit far fetched, I know of precisely one person from Brzil who plays a game, a certain young woman who playes mainly gold cards and also happens to be an economics graduate, so hardly a child or a victim.

As you say, you can put any spin on anything if you only report a slither of the facts!


In all my years, I've heard so much bad things about all the new things people didn't understand. When I was young, it was games which made kids angry and some games came on the forbidden list. Another topic was Poker. Several years and still ongoing they change some laws nearly every year to protect people of course. Similar things happened in the gambling industry. Today it's crypto. They find so many arguments why crypto and NFT are bad and should be banned. I'm waiting for the next thing they can talk nonsense about.



While her article makes a facile analysis, in my view, the random old lady is proposing that whether it be decentralized or not the underlying principle is the same which she terms as programmable freedom.

At the same time, I doubt McDowell is controlled opposition but rather this is an ideological problem between passionate people. I find it interesting that the goal post has shifted from mutual understanding to a clique versus clique; maybe it's the dynamic of social media. I am not defending anyone here simply stating a critical observation.

The really ironic part is that McDowell and Broze could probably agree on a lot but this blockchain disagreement is a major point of contention. In a truly genuine way I ask: Why can these two compassionate individuals work it out beyond personal attacks?


While her article makes a facile analysis, in my view, the random old lady is proposing that whether it be decentralized or not the underlying principle is the same which she terms as programmable freedom.

Potentially, but everything she actually mentions is about giant corporations actually creating "training centers" and shit like that, for centralized games, where the players can't ever own the assets... None of which is really transferable to the crypto/blockchain world, or decentralization as a whole.

Anyone who's done any research into Agenda 21/2030, the Great Reset, etc knows that their plan is Metaverse + Biometrics + Cashless. The three options this leaves people are:

  1. Agorism/Barter
  2. Decentralized & Private Crypto Alternatives
  3. The classic "just go live in the woods"

So... when someone is actively pushing against 1 & 2... that only leaves them supporting the Agenda itself, as far as I can tell.

At the same time, I doubt McDowell is controlled opposition but rather this is an ideological problem between passionate people. I find it interesting that the goal post has shifted from mutual understanding to a clique versus clique; maybe it's the dynamic of social media. I am not defending anyone here simply stating a critical observation.

I don't know so much about this - the only things I've seen from her are all disinformation and coordinated attacks on people like Derrick (and MANY others in the freedom movement), doing her best to convince anyone that will listen that they (we now I'm sure) are part of the UN Agenda... Just like she did with the first chunk of this post about Derrick, before jumping to a totally unrelated topic, trying to make it seem like they were the same.

The really ironic part is that McDowell and Broze could probably agree on a lot but this blockchain disagreement is a major point of contention. In a truly genuine way I ask: Why can these two compassionate individuals work it out beyond personal attacks?

Derrick's reached out to her repeatedly to have an interview, she refused and blocked him, and continues making fraudulent hit pieces about him.

Nothing but personal attacks. She also deletes all comments on any platform that don't fit her narrative.

For example, I left a comment calmly replying to her post above, with a link to this post. She deleted the comment, then copy-pasted a few parts of this post into hers, out of context and out of order (formatted as though it is all connected) and then put this at the beginning of it (with no mention of the edit, response to me, or addressing the misleading way she stuck it all together):

She sure looks and quacks like a duck...


I followed her work and analyzed her video presentations without allowing my bias to take over. I agree with the major points you've outlined in the above posts. I don't think you are wrong in presenting a defense of your friend Derrick.

I am making an effort to go beyond the personal attacks and accusations of being controlled opposition. From this perspective, I've concluded for the most part it boils down to ideological differences and quotidian trivialities. I don't intend to downplay the seriousness of this discussion...which is why I find it disheartening that a meaningful resolution did not come about.

I was blocked by McDowell on twitter for directing her attention to consider some other alternative explanations about Cardano's involvement in Ethiopia. Since I had that interaction (or lack thereof) between her and myself...I know that you are correct in pointing out her unwillingness to have an open discussion with the "other side."

My point of interest in this is not to defend my position in crypto or support an ideologically aligned ally...rather to create a meaningful discussion between opposing parties. The onerous lies with McDowell because of her penchant to block, delete and sidelined opposing discussion.

I will attempt to be a bridge of understanding between the opposing camps. They are far too many people who believe prepackaged narratives: crypto all good, crypto all bad. I hope I can help in a meaningful way to further the discussion.


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