Autonomous Worlds Summit – Lisbon

I attended the Autonomous Worlds Summit last week. In the last year; unstoppable, infinitely moddable worlds built on the blockchain have become a reality

9 minutes

On Wednesday morning I flew out to Lisbon to attend the Autonomous Worlds Summit.

It’s been 12 months since I wrote the post on Wind-Up worlds, 7 months since the First Autonomous Worlds Symposium In London, and 5 months since the Hackerthon Demo Day.

In the last year: unstoppable, infinitely moddable, permanent worlds built on the blockchain have gone from a dream to a full reality. Teams of people are now building ambitious games on chain.

Technical development has reached the point where you can now load whole games directly from the world computer most people know as ‘a Blockchain’. I do mean load a whole game too. You go to a URL, enter your wallet details, and then an entire game will unpack in the browser/app. Remarkable.

The Summit was a closed/small industry affair. Consisting of around 40/50 people, the event bought together most of the projects, developers, teams, and thinkers that make up the Autonomous Worlds scene.

I arrived Wednesday lunchtime and after some lunch at my favourite vegan place, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening working on my talk. Late that evening I grabbed a beer with the Playmint team, and then got up early the next day to finish my talk.

Because it was Lisbon everywhere the venue was up a massive hill. But the trek was worth it, what a venue!

The first hour from 9am was very chill. People arriving, saying hello etc. I caught up with some folks I’d met at the London Symposium and Hackathon in 2022. At 10am we settled down to begin.

After some introductions and house keeping, I gave the opening talk of the event.

The talk was a though-line-sketch of the opening part of my book: The Web Was a Side Quest. Focusing on parts of the story that I thought would be relevant to a room full of blockchain games developers. Particularly, as everyone there is right at the beginning of a new chapter in the history of worlds. @pet3rpan_ from @1kxNetwork had graciously given me a slot twice the length of everyone else to kick the event off!

Worlds: A Walk Through

A fast-paced history on how ‘worlds’ as we know them came to be. From their origins in Prussian statistical simulations, through psychodrama and the innovations in role-play of the 1950s, to paracosmic world-building of Tolkien. Ideas that found their unlikely combination in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. A conceptual breakthrough that immediately fused with computing to create a new medium that is reshaping the modern world.

The talk was recorded and (I think) will be made available as an NFT in the near future. I’ll probably put up an edited for text version of the talk at the same time when the video is released.

The other opening talks were an interesting mix of cutting edge technical developments – like building indexers for Merkle Trees. Other teams presented their games and WIPs, and we got a few updates from teams like MUD and DoJo building world engine software on chain.

The first afternoon was then turned over to a number of interesting roundtable discussions. (Click though Luke’s thread above for his real time reportage).

Then it was drinks, dinner, and then more drinks. I had a fantastic evening, getting to know people and chatting about worlds, games and blockchains.

Day Two kicked off with an amazing ‘story so far’ talk by Justin from 0xPARC, followed by un-conference sessions. All of day two was under Chatham House, so there was some frank and very open discussion.

The whole event was absolutely amazing. This part of the web3 world cares not for hyper-financialisation. Instead they care very deeply about the …

three other affordances that blockchains provide in addition to creating and organising value, ie Composability, persistence, and encryption.

I met some truly incredible people, who I hope to stay in touch with. The energy in the room is similar to how I imagine early events at the dawn of the web in the 1990’s must have been like.

Everything people are doing is ‘new’. Yet, (as I said in my talk) all the things that are happening now have simpatico and alternate histories elsewhere.

I should also note that there were a few teams there building in the Loot-verse. All of them, very cool projects its very cool to seem ‘Power Fandoms‘ doing their thing. Back in 2021 I said this about Loot and the concept:

When they do arrive they will look like an unholy mash-up of github and fandom culture. Free software development and fan fiction. DAOs and gamer guilds, Game Engines and Discord, Wiki edit wars with modular politics. RPGs with legal agreements. It’ll be crypto tokens that represent promises and fan creations that deliver on them.

I can confidently say that – YES, this is exactly whats happening.

I was also very pleased to discover that many folks at the event had read my Worldrunning.Guide essay collection. It was really good to have so many chats with peers about my thinking and the ideas that I’ve put out on the podcast over the last few years.

I hope the conversations and dialogues that began last week continue to evolve and bare fruit as the scene continues to grow.

It’s a very exciting time.

If we met me at the event and are reading this please DM, or reach out!
If you are in london lets grab a beer and discuss an AA LDN meet up?

Permanently Moved

No podcast this week as I’m exhausted from the trip!


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The Ministry Of My Own Labour

  • Slide deck for a client project
  • Wrote and delivered the talk in Lisbon!
  • Worked on some stuff thats due later in the summer
  • Date booked in for season 1 of Writers Bloc writing group
  • I’d quite like a break/holiday lol

Terminal Access

The terminal access section of this post is generally reserved for things that friends and acquaintances are posting to the internet.

Agitator pod co-pilot, author and audiobook narrator Kelby Losack is currently in hospital and very poorly – Earlier this week he posted a gofundme to cover emergency medical expenses.

Dipping the Stacks

D&D’s revised Dungeon Master’s Guide aims at new facilitators and Critical Role fans

Many of the changes will be geared towards restructuring the book so that those players intent on running sessions of D&D can learn how the game rules function before encountering their first pinch of worldbuilding or campaign construction.

Britain in Crisis: The UK Faces a Steep Climb Out of a Deep Hole – DER SPIEGEL

In 2008, the year of the banking and financial crisis, 12 percent of people in the UK believed that their children would be worse off than them. Now, that number is 41 percent, Ipsos has found. One significant reason for that pessimism is the fact that many simply no longer trust their speechifying politicians in Westminster to get much done.

Patch-based 3D Natural Scene Generation from a Single Example

efficient model that can generate high-quality general natural scenes with both realistic geometric structure and visual appearance, in large quantities and varieties, as demonstrated upon a variety of exemplar scenes.

The things I’ve learned running a small bookstore

We have a policy of writing stock off if it’s been on the shelf for three years, and my predecessor hadn’t spent any time sorting them out.

Nicheless culture – Tracy Durnell

Internet culture is a mashup of everything, except not really because there’s no point in referencing things that people don’t recognise. Everything is vibes, and vibes means drawing on emotions imbued in other works β€” and when many people associate their identities with popular franchises, mass culture is what most people have feels about.


I’ve been so busy, with travel and everything (zelda) But I did make some substantial progress on is Storytelling in the Modern Board Game: Narrative Trends from the Late 1960s to Today by Marco Arnaudo at the airport. I’m up into the 90’s now. Reading about the design of Warhammer Quest and how over production and under delivery by competing games killed the mainstream market for RPG-like boardgames.

I opened and read the introduction to Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer. But thats as far as I got with it.

I think I’m about to start the 8th re-read of Altered Carbon for an Agitator pod appearance!

Music Spotify Playlist

I NEED to write a whole thing about the new Sleep Token album. It’s absolutely phenomenal.


For those of you following at home, I’ve been mainlining Japanese pop music for the last month.

I’ve recently discovered a whole micro genre of 90’s electro pop and its such a joy! A totally banana’s proto hyperpop, mad joy. Shibuya-kei is defined by its “cut-and-paste” approach and I get the impression that the genre is entirely technologically determend by the rise of the DAW in the 90’s. Lots of the music in this genre have literal cut and paste samples, taken from classical music. According to Wikipedia shibuya-kei evoved from the electronic pioneer sounds of Cornelius (previously on the blog) and then I fused with anime-fandom and jpop.

A related / parallel genre to shibuya-kei is pico-pico which is a french pop music infused version of the same attitude (check the macdonald duck eclair track below)

I’m aware I’m only just scratching the surface, here are some songs I’ve enjoyed:

Plus-Tech Squeeze Box – Rocket Coaster

Doopees – How Does It Feel

Sonic Coaster Pop – Super Speed Pop Star

macdonald duck eclair – deux ou trois choses que je sais de lui 

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4 responses to “Autonomous Worlds Summit – Lisbon”

  1. […] skipped out on making an episode last week. I was away in Lisbon giving the opening talk at the Autonomous Worlds Summit. I could have made an episode when I got back I suppose, but I was dog tired. Plus, it was a long […]

  2. […] May I went to Lisbon to give the opening talk at the Autonomous Worlds Summit. A convergence of 54 web3 game builders and community members who came together to hang out and […]

  3. […] the 1970’s Dungeons and Dragons reshaped culture forever; with its ontological-vertigo-inducing innovation of entering a simulation in the first person. The immediate conceptual run out of the idea into computing still shapes our lives every day. […]

  4. […] last year. Attended the first AW symposium in November and the follow up hackathon in December. The Autonomous Worlds Summit was in May this year, and 6 months later over 500 people came together to discuss these new […]

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