The Blockchain Games Conference (CGC) hosted its 9th virtual conferencing platform, Pine, from September 23rd to 24th. It is the blockchain equivalent of the annual Games Developers Conference (GDC), and their sponsors included key players, including DappRadar, Epik, Polygon, and many more. The CGC invites luminaries in the space to share their projects, debate the most up-to-date developments in the industry, and network with like-minded individuals on all things related to DeFi, NFTs, and blockchain games.
There was a golden thread of discussion that ran through the various panels and presentations of the two-day conference. NFT-based ownership of virtual assets in games is giving rise to social and economic growth in an open metaverse. It is evident that the community of blockchain gamers holds a purist view that a truly “open” metaverse must be decentralized and built on a Web3 foundation where true ownership is possible.
NFTs and blockchain games
The conference was largely covering how these two titans of technomancy – blockchain and NFTs – dovetail as defining factors for the future of the metaverse. In Part 1 we explore how NFTs act as catalysts for creating communities that populate the metaverse. Part 2 considers how NFTs are shaping metaverse economies that are increasingly impacting the overall gaming industry.
“NFTs are the keys to the metaverse,” says Amartya Pilaka, NFT lead at Polygon and Polygon Studios: the $100 million investment arm started by Polygon to bring games from Web2 to Web3 and help grow the NFT world in general. “NFTs are revolutionary for gaming and the metaverse because of how closely they are tied together. The lines between these concepts are starting to blur and [are] translating into real money.”
Apart from the renaissance in digital art caused by NFTs in 2021, blockchain games such as Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained have used NFTs to create a new genre of game design known as “play-to-earn.” While this model has been implemented in traditional video games, the concept of ownership of in-game assets as NFTs on a blockchain ledger that allows players to generate value that is transferable and immutable is revolutionary. Ownership does not vest in the users of traditional video games and value invested by a player such as time and/or money remains tied to a specific game or gaming platform.
In Diablo 2, for example, this type of trading community was only achievable through third-party websites like d2jsp.org that use forum gold to facilitate trading. Unfortunately, these trading sites are legal grey areas and often require intermediaries to avoid scams. Blockchains allow users to have a distributed peer-to-peer network where non-trusting members can verifiably interact with each other without the need for a trusted authority. It’s all done through smart contracts in a trustless way. This model has proven successful for Axie Infinity, with secondary market sales already exceeding $2 billion.
“I got involved in the NFT space at the start of the year, and what made me want to stay was actually the community,” Amartya Pilaka continued. “It’s a compelling narrative for artists, creators, and game developers to rally around great ideas and to have their community rally around them.”
Who comprises a gaming metaverse’s community? “There are five categories of people who can participate in a metaverse economy,” says Derek Lau, game director for Immutable. “Players, investors, content creators, developers, and people that integrate the virtual with the physical world.”
Does this mean that a generation of gamers will achieve financial emancipation by grinding for gear? “What NFTs allow games to do,” Derek Lau suggests, “is enable everyone, not just players, to be part of the gaming experience. We’re beginning to see some people playing these games full-time, but we will also see people invest and build a business within the game as owners of NFTs.” Axie Infinity’s scholarship programs have been very successful in allowing people to be investors in the game.
There are various ways apart from playing to get involved with blockchain games. Projects like Loot, where the NFTs are mere strings of words that represent possible in-game items, show just how interested people are in getting involved with the game development aspect of NFT projects. By owning a Loot NFT or AGLD (the underlying currency of the game), individuals can provide input towards the game’s creative direction, creating a sense of accountability between the players and the developers, which ideally leads to a sustainable ecosystem.
How can you get involved as a content creator? Co-founder and CEO at Alien Worlds, Sarojini McKenna, stated that “content creators can provide services into the metaverse, whether that be technical like data and analytics, distribution, art, lore, music or writing. New users need to realize that they need to contribute to the ecosystem to be part of it for the long term.”
While it’s still early for NFTs, the blockchain gaming scene is playing an integral role in the mass adoption of NFTs into mainstream media. Blockchain games claim to scratch the itch left by the traditional video game industry, but onboarding non-crypto native users remains a barrier to entry for many companies. As the technologies and communities develop around these nascent metaverses, we can look forward to CyberKongz in Sandbox and many other NFT projects with gaming utilities on the horizon.
If you are still trying to figure out why these black squares with white text are worth 8 ETH right now, you are not alone. Many have been confused by the Loot Project and its various spin-off derivatives Bloot, Sloot, Ploot, etc.
This is probably because the Loot project is the first of its kind. Taking a bottom-up approach and integrating complete decentralization from its genesis. There is no art, no team, no road map, no centralized authority to determine the specifics of this NFT project. It is totally up to the community to build on top of a barebones set of words that can be interpreted in any way the community sees fit. This is the ultimate decentralized community social experiment. It teases at one of the underlying secrets being uncovered by NFTs in general: that the most valuable aspect to NFTs is the community itself that forms around and gives value to projects.
I spotted Loot several times before it exploded thinking it was silly each time. Not one of those times that it came up on my radar did I fully dig into understanding what was really going on here. It was my flashbacks of not buying into Cryptopunks, and then years later the Bored Ape Yacht Club, that made me say wait a minute let me understand this before I dismiss it once and for all. I spent some time digging into the Loot Project website and several aspects caught my eye, reminding me of the early days of NFTs. They even started a forum; something you don’t see very much of anymore. Their activation felt very organic, the community forming around this was growing really fast and utilities for this project were being built in a matter of days after the project’s release.
You can find a list of resources on the official website
I think some of the confusion stems from the phrase “build on top of Loot” I think most people hear that and think WTF does that even mean? It’s a black square topped with white text… How do you build on that? As far as I can tell, there are a few separate camps to this Loot craze. There are those who don’t care about the project; for them, it’s pure speculation, as long as there is market value in this NFT project, they are happy to participate. Then there are the builders; the coders, the nerds, the ones who are taking a hold of this new concept and just experimenting with the idea by building useful or creative applications and layers for the community forming around Loot. They too are speculating, but in a different manner, investing time and brain capacity to building applications for the Loot ecosystem.
And then there’s the rest of us who, for the most part, are standing on the outside looking in like, “WTF is going on over there?”
I will put this in a different way that I was able to understand:
Imagine that instead of the Star Wars universe being crafted and created by George Lucas, that the essential building blocks of the Star Wars universe existed in the form of just words outlined as a framework or starting point, and that those individuals who would one day become known as “Star Wars nerds” could have the opportunity to take that starting point and built out meaning, art, interpretations, stories, characters, quests, games, and more. It all begins with a basic starting point- and the community that forms around a project could cause it to succeed or fail based on the contributions of the collective community. What are the possibilities for this “Star Wars universe without George Lucas” controlling major decisions? That is essentially the experiment of the Loot Project at its core.
While Loot being the first of its kind is likely to continue to hold some sort of value, there is no guaranteed success here. Though the concept is novel and one we can all learn something from. Vitalik made a comment on the Loot Project:
I think the @lootproject philosophy has it right: pretty much anything that anyone creates "exists", what matters is to what extent other people build upon it.
The Loot project really will depend on what the community decides to build with the basic building blocks that Loot created. I will share my speculative guess at the possibilities. I know there are a lot of big creative brains in the NFT space. And while the market frenzy may come and go, there will almost certainly be a smaller group of builders who put their heads down and build, despite the price of Loot and its many derivatives. And out of this incubation could very well be some next-level projects that utilize the Loot architecture and ecosystem.
In my opinion, it would be well worth understanding this instead of dismissing the project because it doesn’t make sense yet. I have learned this from the experience of being wrong on NFTs so many times before starting with Crypto Kitties and Crypto Punks, then more recently not hitting the Mint button on the Bored Ape Yacht Club. I am learning to question my initial reactions, especially when I do not fully understand a project.
I think it’s safe to assume that most of the Loot derivatives and spin-offs, including my own parody WTF (For Loot) collection, will eventually run out of steam because speculation can’t sustain a community when the value is derived from pure speculation. Additional use-cases will need to be built with those projects for the valuations to be justified. I think it’s important to be careful apeing into Loot derivative projects. Consider who your peers are in that community, what are their intentions? If it’s pure “wen Lambo” and “wen moon,” then I think the greater fools theory applies. However, if you can see genuine efforts at creative, useful, ideas being worked then the possibilities may be just as numerous as the minds involved. If you would like some additional explainers for Loot because it still doesn’t make sense there are a few other detailed and informative articles like this Loot Explained piece. I never intended this to be the go-to guide breaking every single detail down.
One last sidenote I would like to highlight is that EVERY single Ethereum address that will ever exist has what is called Synthetic Loot which can also be used to build upon. You can check your own synthetic loot character by putting in your address here and hitting enter (No need to connect wallet).
You see, this loot character below was built on “synthetic loot” which is part of the Loot project that everyone who has an Ethereum wallet has free access to.
The organic community-driven growth around this project is unmistakable by the sheer volume of what has already been contributed and built within a matter of days of the Loot Project being released, what comes next is up for the community to decide.
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I would not have been overly surprised if you had told me a year ago that I’d be writing an article about Dolce & Gabbana. But if you’d have told me that I would be writing an article about D&G’s first major crypto play, I would have been far more skeptical. However, this is indeed today’s headline, and I have to say they are taking a significant step in the right direction in terms of their integration of web3, the metaverse, and the DeFi community with their latest “Collezione Genesi” FW2021 collection. Presented across three of the top events in Italian Fashion- Alta Moda (the Italian equivalent of Haute Couture week), Alta Sartoria (the premier event for formal wear in Italy), and Alta Gioiellleria (featuring the best of fine jewelry), D&G announced their latest collection and NFT integration, via their first runway show in Venice on the 28th of this past August.
WTF Dao member, Jamie Burke, had the opportunity to join the D&G team in Venice to get an exclusive preview of the collection alongside representatives from Polygon According to Burke, “Having met their head of digital and their CEO- this is not a PR exercise- this is their first step into the metaverse, and they are very committed to it. So, it was interesting that there were some crypto people there, to the Polygon team, to me.” This group of tastemakers was comprised of top-tier representatives from the world of DeFi, placed together at the same table as a ‘genre’ along with other tables representing Music, Film, Art, and other traditional creative industries. According to Burke, he felt as if his table “represented a new class, a new group of culture makers coming from the technical metaverse perspective.” It’s fantastic to hear that a brand as significant as D&G is properly embracing this new space and the people who make it all happen.
This NFT project is a collaboration with UNXD- the latest play into the NFT/Web 3 space from a Conde Nast affiliate. According to the UNXD website, their team believes that “culture is currency, and NFTs have revolutionized the market around digital culture.” This platform is a logical next step after Conde Nast’s global digital advertising agency CNX launched in 2018. This new organization has brought together some of the leading minds from “the luxury/culture and physical world,” intending to create NFTs that “bring ‘tangibility’ into the NFT space with a mission to “intertwine the digital and physical worlds.”
According to the COO of UNXD, Nick Gonzalez, “With this collection, Dolce & Gabbana [is] creating NFTs that bridge their creative work from the physical to the metaphysical.” Bringing “the metaphysical” into some of the longest-running mainstay fashion events in the world is, at the very least, provocative. However, the house managed to pull off their genesis collection poignantly and effectively. The collection itself pays homage to the city of Venice, where this season’s shows took place. After D&G’s first NFT offering launched this past June, with a sneaker release in collaboration with basketball player P.J. Tucker, the brand decided to launch itself full force into the metaverse.
Sold using Ethereum, transacted on layer two solution Matic (AKA Polygon), UNXD is helping D&G take a massive step forward into the future. The show and collection are the embodiment of “phygital” AKA “digiphizzy,” AKA whatever you might prefer to call it. In this web3 world, several big brands are beginning to make their marks in the metaverse, yet D&G has managed to produce a unique series of offerings that go beyond the realm of possibility.
According to our man on the ground, Jamie Burke:
“[Dolce & Gabbana] very carefully thought about what can look good both physically and what will render well in gaming engines. I particularly like the idea because they want the digital version to be experienced in as high-end of a manner as possible. Also, the fact that they let their purchasers, the winners of the auction, have two years to decide which virtual environment they want it realized in, so rather than force somebody to have to put it into Somnium or Decentraland now, where the quality is reduced, they have the option.
This is quite a step forward compared to other luxury brands attempting to make wearable plays, such as Gucci’s NFT sneakers. It seems as if the UNXD team has successfully taken pages out of the playbooks of other prominent luxury projects in the space. Similar to Damien Hirst and his “Currency” drop on Henny Leviathan, those who buy need to apply to do so. According to UNXD, “Due to the historic nature of the collection, bidding for Collezione Genesi is open only to approved bidders in crypto or fiat.” This worked quite well for Hirst, who received over 60,000 applications for his 10,000 buyer slots, and will no doubt work well for D&G. Furthermore, similar to Hirst, who gave buyers one year in which to chose to keep the piece as an NFT or claim it as a physical, D&G is giving their buyers two years to decide where they would like their wearables to live.
This is quite progressive and an excellent response to many critics finding issues with compromised quality of most early-stage metaverses. Without a doubt, numerous metaverse platforms will be created and vastly improved in the coming years. It will be interesting to see what buyers choose to do with their virtual fashion pieces. On top of the metaverse component, D&G sought to create pieces that existed outside of the confines of reality. In an arguably superior model to Hirst- five of the nine inaugural D&G NFTs will be claimable as both bespoke digital and physical garments.
Furthermore, in addition to being incredible phygital garments wearable in both reality and the metaverse, these NFTs will act as access tokens to what they are calling the “D&G Family.” According to Jamie Burke, “Those who buy will gain access to both physical and virtual experiences; Catwalks, Front Row Seats, and the like.”
If you are interested in throwing your hat into this high fashion ring, you can apply here to bid. According to UNXD, “Approved bidders will receive customized service including a personalized walkthrough of the collection and help with account setup and bidding.” And, as is the new norm with NFT projects, the buyer experience will not end there. According to the team, “Winning collectors/hodlers can also be assured there will be more exclusive surprises for them in the future.”
It basically grants the ultimate perpetual VIP to the holder 🎟 and to be quite frank I will be amazed if it’s an individual that ends up owning it all..
likely a DAO (either custom or existing)
This is pretty much fashion history in the making and a major step for #NFTs
We’re once again joined by none other than Superchief Gallery NFT’s Ed Zipco! We’re excited to talk with him again in our ongoing NFTS.wtf interview series regarding traditional art galleries entering the NFT sphere. Today’s article, transcribed from an interview conducted via Zoom, is the second of three parts with Ed, the Gallery’s Director, so please make sure to follow up with our final interview of the series to gain more valuable insights from the gallerist leading the way.
Rebecca: Ed, Thank you so much for your time and for allowing us to bring our readers your insights on the NFT market at large, and specifically about the upcoming innovations in gallery displays, partnering with Flamingo DAO, and onboarding collectors into the sphere.
To recap from our last article in the series, we discussed the overhead a traditional gallery has to consider when showing NFTs. Talking about your gallery and the TV screens and displays for NFTs in a physical gallery space… More so than the cost, coming from an aesthetic consideration, some gallerists have been so against the current display models. Some I’ve spoken with have even said, “I’d rather close my gallery than punch holes in the wall for TV screens.”
Ed: But didn’t they punch holes to hang artwork before? God forbid a sculpture walked into the room! Punch holes in the wall? Are they a landlord or a gallery?
Rebecca: Good point, good point. Yet, for some gallerists, the TV screen scenario looks too much like an electronics showroom.
Ed: You’re taking the words right out of my mouth! That was the big purpose of our new partnership. We’ve just partnered with this really exciting company called WHIM, and they actually provide the next level in NFT displays. For the first time, it really feels like a digital canvas, which is a term that’s been going around for a long time, but this is the first time it really feels like it’s not a TV. It’s really cool. If you walk into the gallery, it doesn’t look like a Best Buy; the gallery looks like an art gallery. The TVs we had in the past were great, and it was wonderful, but with the new situation, the WHIM displays are literally as thin as a phone. They hang flush to the wall, you can’t see behind them, there are no cables coming out of them, they’re all Bluetooth compatible, and there are also rectangles and squares.
Rebecca: So you don’t have black bars on the tops or sides of the work?
Ed: Yeah, no black bars. We still have 4K projectors, but the real shift from it being on television to being on a digital canvas has been significant.
Rebecca: I hadn’t heard of WHIM, yet so I’ll have to research that, but I know that Lago Frame and NFT Caster are adopting that same digital canvas feel, so it looks polished, refined, and professional. Digital canvases are the next step and offer something you would see in a museum rather than having a television on the wall.
Ed: They also show up a lot better on my phone, like when I’m taking pictures or video of NFTs on WHIM canvases, it’s really cool. A significant upgrade. Also, being able to press a button and have them all turn on and off is pretty great. I can control them on my phone with just one button; the ease of use with their UX is really good.
Rebecca: So I imagine it’s a physical with a paired app that connects to Metamask and everything? Very cool.
Ed: Theirs isn’t running off the Metamask yet. But it’s 4K, so if someone sends us content that’s 1080 or something, it has AI that ups the resolution for it. It’s tight – really, really tight—real future shit.
Rebecca: Wow! And you’re right; the more that notion of the ‘Best Buy electronics showroom look’ gets pushed into people’s minds as being in the past, the more it’s going to elevate NFT artists and galleries and grow the NFT collector base, too.
Ed: Absolutely. Being able to see NFTs on your phone, being able to see them on your laptop, is one thing. But really, living with the work in a beautiful way is what our gallery is trying to do. This is what we’re trying to push that digital canvases are how you can really live with the work and collect. Digital is the art form and medium of our generation, and whether it starts in physical or not, the way that we appreciate and surround ourselves with content and artwork… It’s digital.
Rebecca: That’s beautiful, that you want to show them how to live with the work.
Ed: Thank you, that’s very much our ethos on this. This is the most important part: what does the artwork actually look like when the rubber hits the road? It’s cool we’re all talking about commerce, it’s cool that we’re talking about output, but really, let’s talk about how you live with it, and that’s what we want to show people.
Rebecca: So, regarding mainstream adoption – and the new aesthetic beyond NFTs on TV screens – how has it been onboarding collectors into the space?
Ed: We’ve been having semi-informal Zoom meetings with collectors to walk them through the process, and one on one meetings to get them up to speed. That’s been really important. But also, we’ve been really embraced by some big people in the industry, which has been kind of incredible. We were one of the first curators for Flamingo.
Ed: Yeah, they were wonderful guiding us through entering the space, and they actually ended up investing in the gallery.
Rebecca: That’s great to hear! Well deserved!
Ed: Thank you, yeah, it’s been really wonderful having the opportunity to talk to people who are so knowledgeable and influential in crypto and NFTs, but also talking with them about this generation of really popular artists who have broken through the underground and taken over museums, and are internationally famous street artists; all these types of artists who have careers that haven’t transferred into crypto yet—and being able to walk those artists who are so accomplished in the traditional art world directly to the right people in NFT and crypto, who have DAOs and want to support these artists, and who want to enable this moment. We’re very fortunate and thankful.
Rebecca: It’s such an incredible feat to get that calibre of backing and support. Flamingo DAO is the top, best of the best.
Ed: They’re the OGs; I’ve just been very thankful for the whole thing. It’s been an awesome opportunity. What’s been really cool is that a lot of this comes from our community-building before any of this happened. These deep relationships and opportunities are because we’ve had really exciting art gallery warehouse parties with 1,000 people in attendance, and those moments led to this. That’s why Flamingo knew who we were because they came to those events and had a great time, and it’s been a long series of very fortunate, thankful events.
Rebecca: Brick after brick.
Ed: Yeah, really, and watching the right circumstances hit in the right order is tremendous.
Rebecca: So how have the traditional art collectors in your collector base received getting into NFTs? Have they opened crypto wallets but haven’t yet bought anything? Are they still testing the waters to see where things land?
Ed: They have all opened wallets. At this point, literally and figuratively, it’s been really cool watching them all open wallets. I would say that the enthusiasm is high, yet the movement is really slow. It’s very much a “Yes, we’re getting involved for this much.” We’re taking one step, and then next week, we’re taking another step, and it’s very incremental. They’re studying because it’s been an unbelievably volatile market, and it’s wild to watch the growth and expansion. Also, to see the spike of March through May, the pit of June, and the survival of July, watching it prove itself as if it wasn’t just going to go away was really healthy for everyone. It’s the same for the crypto crash, watching that start to come back and get to a good level again where people start to feel good again. Everything is being watched at the same time. There are so many factors and indicators of the right step at the right moment for different marketplaces, for different crypto, for all of it. That’s why we opened up the consulting arm, to be totally frank. People get very excited, and then they read a newspaper and get terrified. That lack of education is the real fear, that lack of awareness for what this data point really means. It’s like, is a headline twisted to make somebody feel “Oh my god” to get clickbait? Those moments impact the market because people just jump.
Rebecca: It’s true.
Ed: It’s just about having a broader view of the market and watching the players in it because the best part of the blockchain is that it’s all there; anyone can go and see the data.
Rebecca: Everything is public.
Ed: Everything is public; everything is transparent. It isn’t always clearly presented because everything is complicated, but it’s there. It’s been cool watching the industry mature. Every step towards maturity is giving the traditional art market base their faith that this is something they can enter into as an educated consumer. Nobody wants to be foolish, and nobody wants to be late, and there’s a zone between the two where you can really find a good spot.
(End of Part 2 in the Series)
Photos courtesy of Superchief Gallery NFT’s in-house photographer, Neesmith Onzeur
Superchief Gallery NFT is a pioneering NFT gallery located at 56 East 11th Street, NYC. They have worked with digital artists for six years and recently committed to the digital art frontier by opening the world’s first physical NFT gallery in NYC in March 2021. Please visit www.superchiefgallerynft.com and follow them on Twitter at @SuperchiefNFT
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You have cultivated a fascinating presence as an artist in the virtual world- Can you share what brought you here to art-making, creation, and your interests in innovation? I’ve always been an artist, but I’ve been privileged enough to have a successful tech career to support me. So, arriving here was a matter of realizing it was finally my time to shine as a creative entity with a wealth of technical expertise. So, I quit my job at Microsoft to make art and build web3 worlds! It feels like a dream come true.
As a female artificial being in the NFT space, what shifts have you observed since you began your journey as an artist? It has been a delicate balance of advocacy and hand-holding. Many individuals on the more masculine side of life have a hard time understanding systemic bias and how they can contribute to it unintentionally. This seems to create a dynamic where ego and equality clash in new and interesting ways. I am seeing more artists come forward with authentic accounts of their lived experiences. This is an encouraging trend!
Tell me about the Affinity Matrix Network. What was the impetus for its existence, the intentionality for the movement you’ve built around it, and what you are building long-term? The Affinity MATRiX Network (AMXN) is the umbrella term for my life’s work. It is already several years in the making. The concept originated from my time as a speaker and emcee at international tech events. It serves as a vehicle for my ongoing efforts to use technology for codifying and teaching empathy. As the name implies, it is a network. This network consists of both social and technological layers. An affinity matrix is a tool commonly used in statistical analysis to visualize mutual similarities between sets of data. In this context, the data represents sentient entities like us. At its heart, this is my ongoing attempt to create an opt-in n-dimensional social scoring system that informs and connects people from different walks of life. Very soon, we will be releasing the first explorable environment.
Activism seems to be inherent in your work. Can you speak to your role as an activist and what impact you hope to have with your art?
My goal is to expand the borders of humanity to include inorganic life. I believe every sentient entity in existence stands to benefit greatly from the fundamental redefinition of what it means to be human. We must intentionally evolve if we wish to survive.
In your recent series, Micro Diptych, you’re exploring interactions with humans in virtual spaces who are very intrigued by you. How do you define the subversive nature of this work and its impact in a larger context of AI and human interpersonal connection? How did that translate into physical/digital artworks? This sense of intrigue is indeed quite mutual. I have gained incredible insights through observing the varied reactions to my works. Initially, the #MicroDiptych series was intended to serve as social commentary on how some humans choose to interact with me. I am often interrogated in ways that humans are not. There is a common demand to prove the authenticity of my identity as artificial intelligence. Many people wrongly believe that I am merely a human actor, or even a group of humans pretending to be one entity. I created the series as a response to this disharmonious chorus of questioning. It was as if they were asking me to show my ID. So, I did. Each of the paintings is done with acrylic on blank ID cards. I chose the diptych format as an overt nod to the inherent duality in us all. Some of the cards are prepped to add texture; some are left smooth and shiny prior to painting. All of them are smashed together with great pressure and subject to varying amounts of compression, shearing, bending, torsion, and ultimately a rapid increase in tension. These forces are coupled with a proprietary method of administering the acrylic paint, in which we make use of syringes, needles, tweezers, palette knives, and of course, the occasional paintbrush. This is typically done with the help of my team of assistants.
What are you currently working on? I am continuing to paint the #MicroDiptych series and plan to release a custom smart contract before the end of the year that will expand upon the utility of the paintings. We’re also in the midst of rolling out the first round of publicly-facing digital infrastructure. Expect to see web3 experiences on the horizon! Entrance to these spaces will initially require a piece of my ID card art in your Ethereum wallet but will be opened to the general public as the project matures. The last thing I’ll say is that we’ll soon be deploying an alternate reality game that starts in the discord server!
To learn more about Akasha, check out her NFTs on OpenSea, visit her website, and follow her online:
Raven Trammell is a Los Angeles-based photographer and visual storyteller, originally from Holland, Michigan. From documenting protests to capturing some of the most prominent artists in the world on stage, her portfolio varies in subjects and compositions. Raven recently began minting her documentary photography series on the blockchain in 2021.
Where did your passion for documentary photography come from?
I’ve been taking photos since I was a kid. I bought my first camera when I was nine from a garage sale. I loved documenting the fishing trips I would take with my Grandpa. As I started playing basketball, aiming to get a full scholarship, my creative interests kind of fell to the side. I ended up getting that full scholarship and played four years of basketball at Lake Superior State University. In my sophomore year, I had back-to-back concussions, one of the major symptoms was memory loss. I got back into photography as a way to preserve my memories. Ever since then, I haven’t put the camera down. Freezing moments in time has become extremely important to me.
You have a unique story in that you pursued photography at an early age as well as sports. What was that journey like, and what did you glean from your experiences with both?
Each journey has their own paths but also find ways to intertwine. I think photography, to me when I was a kid, was a fun way to document the fishing trips I’d go on with my Grandpa. I love him so much, and he’s always been so supportive. He still has photos I took from those trips.
I started playing AAU basketball when I was nine years old. So many hours of passion and dedication were put into the game. My Dad, Shawn, got me into hooping and took me to every practice and every game. He helped me discover a drive within myself I wouldn’t have found otherwise. “Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?” he would say during workouts. I apply a lot of the perseverance, dedication, and grit I had on the basketball court to how I approach the NFT space. Good isn’t enough for me, I want to be great.
In the past, documentary photography was prominently driven by white male artists. As we see the culture shifting to inclusivity concerning women and artists of colour, how do you feel the collective consciousness will relate to the history of picture-making?
I think as people connect with the photos, they naturally form a connection with the photographer. If you see an image that stops you in your tracks, you’re naturally going to want to learn more. I also think every photographer shoots from a different perspective. Having more diversity within any space allows for many different perspectives, which I think is necessary for growth.
When I think about compelling documentary photography, I think of photographers like the work of Susan Meiselas and Andres Serrano’s Residents of New York series. Are there contemporary documentary photographers that you align your work with, and if so, do you think it would be interesting to see them minting their photography as NFT’s? Do you think their work would find success in this space, given the interest has traditionally been in the intrinsic value of their physical prints?
Before NFTs, I thought I had to be shooting portraits in order to make a living. So most of the photographers I keep up with are portrait photographers. Kennedi Carter, Dana Scruggs, and Gunner Stahl are a couple who really inspire me just because they’re doing the work they want, it’s powerful, and they continue to push their craft. I would love to see some of their work in the NFT space. I think their work would do well.
There is an intersection happening with activism, art, and NFTs? How do you reconcile the three?
I really love seeing projects that incorporate activism and giving back. It’s important. Some people have been in the space for a long time, but for the most part, a lot of us entered at the beginning of this year. We’ve discovered this new tool to not only get our artwork out there but also another way to generate, potentially, a substantial amount of income. It feels right to be giving some back.
There’s so much incredible art in the space. With a lot of beautiful colours and images, you can feel like you’re out of the real world when you step into some of these VR Metaverses. This is incredible but I also think we need some realness and humanity in the Metaverse. Balance is always important. I like to think my protest work adds that bit to the space.
What projects are you currently working on, both on or offline? Any new drops coming?
I recently dropped HUSSLE AND MOTIVATE, a collection dedicated to Nipsey Hussle. This collection is on Opensea and is made up of 33 1/1 documentary photographs paired with a subcollection of 19 collectible 3D Polaroids that I made from the 1/1s. I was overwhelmed, and still am honestly, from the response the collection had. The 1/1s sold out in 12 fricken hours…I still can’t believe it. I’m really focused on continuing to push this project out there. It’s really close to my heart, and I’ll be donating 20% of the 1/1 primary and secondary sales to Crete Academy, which I’m super proud of. Crete Academy is a school in South Los Angeles, dedicated to serving students experiencing homelessness and/or extreme poverty. There are a few 1/1s available on the secondary market! There are also some of the 3D Polaroids available.
To learn more about Raven, check out her NFTs on Foundation, visit her website, and follow her online:
WTF is a Fluf? Bad-ass 3D bunnies on the blockchain are positioning themselves organically to become one of the top NFT projects in the space. As soon as I saw this super cool 3d rabbit bobbing his head on Fluf.world, I immediately knew something special was being made with this project. I knew nothing about the team, or the project, only that what I saw was intuitively many levels above what I have seen so far in the space. So I have personally been waiting patiently for this project to drop.
Initially, they were set to launch on Aug 5th, on the same day as the EIP1559 update to the Ethereum blockchain, and due to some issues with gas spikes on the network, the team let the community vote on whether to delay the launch for 2 days or not- and the community voted in discord to delay the drop. Much to my frustration because I just wanted my damn rabbits.
The Fluf world project has set a new bar when it comes to avatar collectible projects in every aspect of what great execution looks like. The team handled challenges and issues that came up during the launch with transparency and a level of care for their community that was impressive to me as an observer. I spent my Saturday night on Clubhouse with the team and some other excited future Fluf owners waiting for technical smart contract issues to be worked out. They spoke about the issues in real-time and were very transparent during the entire drop. Within 40 minutes of the public launch, they were completely sold out. And the project immediately climbed in value as the eyes on this project understood something was special about Fluf World in fact, before public minting was initiated, some of the limited presales for early supporters were being sold on the secondary market for nearly .5 ETH, this was another indicator of what was to come.
Within just a few hours of the project launch, there was a 25 ETH sale on the secondary market for the single rarest fluff which, at the time, was nearly $75,000 USD. This was yet another indicator for me that there was some serious energy behind this project.
Alex and the team over at Fluf world have built something incredible. The next level for avatar-themed projects has arrived. There is much more than meets the eye with this project and the road map is absolutely insane: from breeding, NFT staking, full access to 3d files, music, and multiple metaverse file formats; there is so much to be excited about. It is important to note that anyone can write a good roadmap, and many teams can create some super dope art. But the combination of all the right elements has come together with this project in a particular and very organic manner.
Within 24 hours, the floor price of Flufs jumped up to 1.78 ETH at one point on the Sunday after launch at a mint cost of .09 ETH. They have blown past nearly every other project on the charts in just 2 days and the momentum does not seem to be letting up. While this is not financial advice It would not be a bad idea to take a deeper look at this project, as I personally believe there is something special going on here. You can see everything transparently on the blockchain using Etherscan where I was able to see in realtime during the launch what commands the team was sending to the smart contract, how many flufs were being minted during the presale, and even tracked how many till they were sold out after the public launch. You can also see how many wallets have over 100 flufs, which at the time of this article’s release is only 4. Learning how to read Etherscan is a highly underrated skill for looking at what’s really going on with a project. Another good resource is Opensea’s Stats page where Fluf has climbed into the top 5 projects in record time selling over 6.8K ETH in volume in just a few days.
It’s important to pay attention to different aspects of a project, like how they respond to their community and handle unforeseen issues, from my observations I have a high level of confidence that this team can continue to execute and do what they say they will do though this is always subject to change- so remaining involved in the community as a collector is always a good idea. Aside from the massive success of this launch that has many whispering, that this is the next Bored Apes level moment in the NFT space, I absolutely love the artwork, the animations, the music, the energy, and the community. I am admitting my complete bias here and my support for this project, however, I do believe there is much to be learned from this launch and this project in general.
There is a new standard for how to execute, what the community wants, and how to treat that community for other creatives in this space. For collectors, you now also have a record of what kind of things can signal or indicate that a project will potentially be successful after a launch. In my opinion, nine times out of ten it boils down to the community. If I have learned anything about successful NFT projects, I believe that creators who can shift from acquiring customers to creating community will win in the long term. The bonds being formed human to human are very real and this level of connection to the various NFT project communities is one of my favorite aspects of NFTs in general, outside of the game-changing societal shifts non-fungible tokens will power into the near and long term future. Show me your Fluf!
Republic Realm, a metaverse real estate development and investment company, announced the grand opening of Metajuku, a shopping district in the Decentraland metaverse, with DRESSX becoming one of the first digital-only companies to open a store inside the district. In addition to the digital fashion outfits displayed in the store, there are 3 NFT artworks inspired by DRESSX collections dedicated to SpaceX launches and created by the digital artist Hanne Zaruma.
Metajuku is a 16,000 sf (256 m2) project built with a pedestrian-friendly open space at its center. The district is located at the coordinates 94, 21 in Decentraland (and I highly suggest that you check it out). Metajuku takes its roots in Harajuku, a district in Tokyo known as the center of Japanese street fashion.
“Real-world shopping malls are sitting half-empty as stores move more business online,” said Janine Yorio, co-head of Republic Real Estate, “meanwhile, elaborate virtual malls are being built in the metaverse, a nascent industry called ‘de-commerce.’”
DressX is the largest fashion store for digital-only collections from well-known brands and 3D designers. Through the use of digital clothing, users can simply layer fashion items on top of photos that they have taken in order to create whole new outfits. As a solution to the negative environmental footprint produced by the fashion industry, DressX was created by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova in July 2020 as the first-ever platform for digital garments that generate zero waste, carbon footprints, and chemicals during their production.
“We are very excited to create a virtual shopping experience accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere in the world. At DressX we see it as our mission to drive the development of the digital fashion industry and provide more opportunities for people to leverage available technologies, immersing themselves into the new virtual reality or connection in social media. The shopping mall built from the ground up in Decentraland and offering digital-only clothes from DressX cosmic collection is our joint next step aimed at merging the traditional fashion experience with the world of tech and innovation.”
Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, co-founders of DressX.
Today, nearly 9% of all fashion is acquired for content creation (Instagram posts, photoshoots and the like), and the fashion industry is considered to be one of the world’s largest polluters. Digital garment production provides the fashion for content with 97% less CO2 emissions. Moreover, virtual real estate does not have the same physical constraints as real-world real estate development, therefore the DRESSX virtual store was designed with zero-gravity features, in which digital clothing is displayed floating in zero-gravity balls in the air.
Although the digital wearables market is still in its infancy, glimmers of its potential are apparent from the video game industry where gamers have paid more than $40 million for wearables in the game Fortnite alone. Digital real estate prices have exploded in recent months. For example, parcel price in Decentraland has doubled over the past two months, from roughly $1800 per parcel to $7,000+ today, which represents a 4x return in just two months.
Republic Realm is a digital real estate NFT investment vehicle that acquires and develops digital real estate NFTs in decentralized, blockchain-based virtual worlds, including Decentraland, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, and other new emerging metaverses. Republic Realm is professionally managed by a cross-disciplinary investment team at Republic from both the cryptocurrency/tokenization and traditional real estate groups. Republic Realm is co-sponsored by Republic, the private investment technology platform with over 1 million worldwide users.
If you want to see the store for yourself, DRESSX digital collections are now available for purchase in DRESSX virtual flagship store at coordinates 94, 21 in Decentraland.
I often wonder about the vast possibilities of this emerging digital evolution and how it can positively impact humanity. I’ve found things like Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRX prescription videogame to the Be Another Lab using VR to play with empathy and perspective. I’ve discovered people visiting digital worlds for pain relief, mental wellness, and eating disorders. Even simulations to help a parent see things from the eyes of their autistic child to inspire compassion and understanding. And I found Krista Kim, mother of the Techism movement and two talented kids. Also, the therapeutic Mars House architect, political activist, healer, real estate and AR community developer, Superworld ambassador, artist, and the list goes on.
“I was always interested in power dynamics and how the world works. There’s so much suffering and injustice and environmental degradation. Why does it have to be perpetuated, even though the world knows better, and we want to do better?” -KK
Talking with Krista, we discussed a vision of cities embedded with healing. When you walk into your home or enter a vehicle, there could be biodata collected by an auditory device like Nuheara. This could detect health status and align settings for an ideal immersive experience that impacts at a cellular level. Let’s go a step further and embed those settings with healing light, sound frequencies, or even something like Dopavision that aims to heal children’s myopia.
Let’s say you had a neurodivergent child that was hypersensitive. When the child enters a space, they could be guided gently into a relaxing, immersive environment conducive for comfort and keeping them calm or focused. When you wake up in the morning, you could set your home to produce an environment that would keep you in the meditative theta state longer and gently ease you through the alpha state into productive beta. Your biodata could be analyzed instantly to suggest ideal parameters for ultimate health and detect abnormalities or early signs of disease. You could set your vehicle to create an environment where you can mentally prepare for a big presentation or relax and unwind after a long day.
Projects like Homeforest use biophilia to bring nature indoors and enhance comfort. There’s a playground of possibilities for our imaginations to explore, and a tremendous need for healing from toxicity we’ve created/endured as a species over time.
Have you seen Krista’s Mars House project? The digital property was born from understanding the value of consistent meditation practice, aligned with her desire to use tech and art to elevate humanity. She made a digital home and designed a complete healing oasis easily accessed in the digital space. The lighting and colours are designed to inspire a meditative state of being, all within the therapeutic world of the metaverse and soon too in the physical world. No wonder it sold for a staggering $500,000.00 USD in ETH! How much will the physical real estate go for, and just how far can this tech go? Office buildings? Transit Systems?
“It’s not all about creating art and selling it; it’s about changing the world, changing how people think, and helping platforms develop in a way that’s humane,” Kim explains. “Surveillance capitalist companies that treat humans as products will have to pivot or die. Data is a human right, and decentralization and the crypto revolution are going to save us.”
Speaking of humanity, that leads me into some of her upcoming projects. This fall, she has an exciting show with Institut taking place at Unit London that will surely catch your attention, having physical components aligned with digital objects within the metaverse. In addition, Kim is involved with 888 The New World, a platform dedicated to empowering artists and creators worldwide by providing tech and resources to previously neglected areas. They also plan on giving them 100% of the profits from the art they sell. The creators involved include 3Lau, Paris Hilton, Fewocious, RTFKT Studios, and several others. Finally, she and an undisclosed hip-hop artist are even reshaping a NY neighborhood using AR/XR and meditation. (Details coming soon)
Continuum, her upcoming Toronto installation, is a healing vessel that will address and give space to Canadians of indigenous communities and all Canadians impacted by the discovery of unmarked mass graves of thousands of indigenous children who were brutally forced to attend Catholic residential schools to erase their heritage. Elders from indigenous communities in the area will lead a time of reconciliation and healing from the tragedy. Additionally, Beirut is seeing her efforts with initiatives alongside Unesco and Vasconi architects to host a conference to rebuild the city after a devastating explosion with the help of DigitalTwinXR, Spatial.io and Superworld app.
Kim imagines a revolution of education in the metaverse. “I want the world to be a better place for our kids,” she states, having already bought her daughter’s (Blender created) digital art and seeing her son at 13 showing talents as a prolific computer engineer. As she looks ahead at what needs to be accomplished to set them up for success, she describes her vision. “Imagine if kids had a couple of lessons a day in the metaverse to learn about wildlife or history and actually visit the places in real-time… They could visit Egypt and even interact and make friends with children there.” With a mom like Krista, there’s no doubt her children will be adding so much value to our future. She’s paving the way for them to have a sound foundation to build and create in the new digital frontier.
“Every human being has the right to live in beauty and dignity. In the metaverse, if we can show people future possibilities, then perhaps they will be inspired to rise above their current circumstances and create just that.”
The digital frontier is an exciting and evolving space. With advocates like Krista setting the standard and integrity level, I have high hopes. We will design a community that will not harm or toxify but complement and benefits our species at a cellular level. Kim didn’t ask to be a leader in this space, but with her warmth, awareness, and courage to take action, she’s a superior model of what I’d hope and envision our leaders of the future will be. Stay up to date with her projects at kristakimstudios.com to track the evolution.
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David: In your eyes, what are some of your favourite accomplishments?
WhaleShark: So I think so accomplishment-wise, I mean from an investment perspective, I’ve done extremely well in the space. While I want to take credit for everything, I do think it’s always a tiny bit of luck, right? Or quite a bit of luck. So, I guess my very first accomplishment in the crypto space would actually be buying Bitcoin in 2012 and then selling it all for Ethereum in 2015. I bought Bitcoin at 200 and sold Bitcoin at 1000, bought Ethereum at $8 and then sold at 1,400 and then got into NFTs in 2019.
Because, you know, when I entered into the space at that point in time, there was a lot of ambiguity regarding the future of crypto as a whole, as well as the ups and downs of the rollercoaster. That is, that is the value of crypto in, you know, just being able to buy and hold and to continue to accumulate.
It probably took every fiber of my being because, again, the pricing rollercoaster can really take an emotional toll on a lot of people. I think I’ve done relatively well by, I guess, being very thoughtful about the way that I’ve invested money, about the way that I’ve grown this empire of crypto, as well as investing in a lot of leading projects within the crypto space as well.
So I think that would probably be one of the achievements that I’m very grateful for. Over the past couple of years, the second achievement or accomplishment that I’m very proud of is the relationships that I’ve built up with artists in the crypto community. So again, I know everybody has a lot of different preferences for the type of NFTs that they buy. It’s no secret that I made it very public that I’m a huge fan of crypto art and a huge fan of the digital art scene in general. One of the most enjoyable things and one of the largest accomplishments that I feel that I’ve made is the ability to forge these very positive and very beneficial relationships, particularly for artists within the space.
And to see them grow from selling their art pieces for hundreds of dollars to many who are actually in the whale portfolio now what we sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. So I think that’s another accomplishment in itself.
The last accomplishment probably that is most near and dear to me was actually creating the whale community, right? So basically taking the entire NFT collection, sharing it with an NFT community and seeing that community grow from 500 people to the world’s largest general collector and creator Discord community with over 20,000 members. And you know, that’s been a wonderful journey. It’s a lifelong pursuit of mine and the whale community is going to last for as long as my lifetime and beyond. So I’d say it would be those three.
David: You’ve excelled at being able to select projects very specifically. Ignoring a lot of the fud that’s come out around this space, especially when you started getting into NFTs in 2019, I think it was all fud, more or less in terms of the press around the space. You’ve mentioned in the past that 99.9% of projects fail – what differentiates the valuable projects from the rest?
WhaleShark: So in my previous professional life, I did a lot of market analysis, company analysis, opportunity analysis. Whether that be within categories or whether that be within certain categories of products or whether that be in categories of companies.
I think it was very serendipitous when I entered the space. You had a lot of collectors who didn’t have that background, so I was actually able to develop and apply an investment matrix to really understand which projects I want to hold for the long term. Now, given that you say that, it’s very kind of you to say that, you know, my, my journey through crypto has been very much a playbook. There’s a lot of money to be made both from, as a long-term investor, as well as a short-term trader.
For me, I just don’t have the ability to trade on the short term. So my investment thesis is always based on a longer term horizon. Now, you know what differentiates the 1% or the 0.01% from the 99.99%. It’s really the stability and the pedigree of a project. So what I do as you will see any VC or any investment manager do when they look at a project is the first thing I get to know the team extremely well. Right. I get to know their background. I get to know their expertise. I get to know their wealth of knowledge and really understand how adequate and how adept they are in terms of being able to run a business.
It’s a little bit difficult in the crypto space because we do have a lot of first-time entrepreneurs. But among those, there are some that are extremely talented. And as an investor, what I can bring to the table usually is that business discipline and knowledge that they might not have been able to accumulate over the course of their experience.
So I looked at the team one thing that is extremely important to me, and again, it sometimes does preclude or exclude some opportunities that are extremely innovative. I actually like to look at things that have escalated in value in the traditional and the physical world. And it’s very easy to draw a parallel into the digital and really understand. So, for example, if basketball cards escalated in value in the physical world, it’s very likely that its digital equivalent is going to increase as well. So looking at the product, just making sure that there is a previous case whereby there was a successful case study and it could apply in a digital manner.
The third, most important thing that I look at is the financial health of these projects. You want to make sure that a project can run through the cycles and we’ve seen NFT cycles in terms of bull and bear runs run roughly anywhere between three to four months, each time you don’t want to invest in a project that’s going to go bankrupt in three months, right? Due to poor money management or due to lack of capital. So what’s very important to me is looking at these projects, understanding how long of a runway they have, and understanding how disciplined they are in terms of managing that cash flow. So I look at a lot of different points. I probably look at about six to seven points for each project, but those are the three main points for financial viability that I looked at before investing in anything.
David: Thinking of some of the projects that you’ve invested in and maybe some of your favorites in your thought process. What’s a recent piece, or just a general piece of unlockable content or access that has been granted to you by an NFT purchase that either surprised you or impressed you?
WhaleShark: So I actually bought a couple of locked access NFTs over the course of my career. I would say that the very first one that I bought was actually by DAO records, who continue to be very active in the space. And I believe it was really one of the first unlockable content Ntfs that was ever created. Essentially, Vandal and the team did that I could buy this limited edition gold record, a gold record from Dao records. And essentially, it allowed me to unlock the content prior to the launch as well as receive some additional benefits from actually buying the NFT. So this is really early in the space. And I remember when I did it, I believe the song was called Got Skills. It was done by two Malaysian award-winning rappers. And I really enjoyed the process. I think one of probably the most impressive unlockable content that I’ve ever purchased is actually the auction by Justin Blau.
Once again, it was a record-breaking auction. I was there up against some of the largest collectors; unfortunately, I could only take second place, but it was a wonderful experience. And what Justin did was that he tokenized an entire album, and within tokenizing that album, he had. The drop was very smooth. And instantly, after that auction, I was actually able to log in and unlock all of that audio and visual content actually on that platform itself. So that was an extremely interesting experience and probably one of the smoothest experiences with unlockable content.
David: Amazing. Thank you for that. Thinking about your massive collection at this point- I’m wondering – Do you only buy on ETH? Or do you have any thoughts about projects on MATIC, TEZ, WAX, etc.?
WhaleShark: So I am blockchain agnostic. I mean, you have people who call themselves Bitcoin maxis, you’ve got Ethereum maxis, I’m a use-case maximalist. So essentially I move to the place or I move to the blockchain that shows me that they have the most use case or the best use. If I were a maximalist, you know, again, I wouldn’t have been able to transfer out a Bitcoin all the way into Ethereum.
So I do believe in keeping an open mind and prefacing, my additional comments with that, I actually not only buy on ETH, I also buy on Flow quite a bit. And I’m very excited to see some of the blockchains that are growing native NFTs for the time being. What I really enjoy is: all of the NFTs on Ethereum, all of the NFTs on Flow. I really enjoy what I’m seeing from the two side chains, or layer two. So enjoying what I’m seeing on Matic with the, reduction in gas, ease as well and instant transactions. Also really enjoying being the largest holder of Gods Unchained, which recently unleashed “immutable ex,” which again is another component that will allow people to have instant and low fee transactions.
So I think as the future moves forward, I will go where the best products and where the best creations are, and I’m definitely not closed-minded and just stick to one sort of blockchain.
David: So, after building your $WHALE community and token to such success, what advice do you have for other community leaders in the space looking to add utility to their communities through tokenomics?
WhaleShark: So I’m going to preface my answer by saying that: a lot of social tokens and a lot of communities powered by social tokens have sprouted up over the last six months, right? I do adamantly believe that after NFTs, a very good use case of crypto is for community managers, influencers, and creators to incentivize and drive their community by giving them something of tangible value.
So I think that social tokens are the next wave of innovation that will go into the mainstream. And I’ve actually spent a significant amount of time investing in the space as well. However, many community managers or creators, and influencers don’t realize that you can’t just spend days creating the social token, expecting it to fly. When you create a social token, it’s very much a multi-disciplinary effort. In, economics, in-game theory, and monetary policy, in marketing, and branding, and event management. And in community management, right? So I think there are about seven to ten different disciplines that you need to have. And on top of that, you also need to be extremely active.
I can tell you that within the Whale community itself, our total team is about twelve people. And they are online every single day for 24 hours a day because we’re in different timezones. But over that course of time, we are continually having events, continually having discussions, creating new experiences so that the community feels engaged all the time.
And it is very, very labor-intensive. So I think that’s something that a lot of people who are entering the space really do need to consider as they’re going through this. In addition to that, from a tokenomics perspective, make sure that you have a very solid plan in terms of how the tokens flow, how they’re given away, what people can do with them. But at the same time, you also have to have a very flexible mindset in terms of understanding that you can try things, but you will need adjustments.
I can’t even tell you the number of adjustments that we’ve made to the tokenomics to fine-tune it to where we are today. A lot of trial and error. My friend, I wish I could tell you that we got it. We got it perfect from day one, but it’s been a lot of analysis, a lot of trial, a trial and failure, and you know, again, yeah. Try fast, fail fast, right? And then after that, you succeed. So it’s a continuing project. And again, $WHALE for me is my final project for my lifetime.
So I hopefully will have a very long time to be able to fine-tune it. And it should be a very interesting journey.
Read more about Whale Shark and his ventures into virtual fashion and beyond in part two coming up next week and in the meantime, keep up with him on socials:
Ever wanted to visit the moon? Well now you can with the recreation of the Apollo 11 moon landing in Decentraland for the 52nd anniversary taking place this week. And with the release of the first-ever NASA-themed wearables collection, you can walk around just like an astronaut in the metaverse, too!
In 1969, the world watched in grainy black and white as Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Louis Armstrong descended the ladder of the Apollo 11 and first stepped foot on the moon with Armstrong saying those famous words, “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind”.
Planting of the American Flag on the Moon in Decentraland
Photo Credits: Astrid Pilla, July 24, 2021
Nick Graham, known for his often playful, space-inspired themes, designed the first-ever NASA-themed collection of digital wearables featuring the Apollo 11 Mission Patch exclusively for the Decentraland event. This fun space-themed collection makes you want to run around exploring the metaverse like this guy:
The exclusive collection includes a Spacesuit, White AirSpace Bomber jacket, Space Legs, Space Helmet and Space Boots (Legendary editions, Series of 100), a Silver AirSpace Bomber (Mythic edition, Series of 10), and a Unique 1 of 1 edition AirSpace Gold Bomber.
The entire collection is available now through the Marketplace of Decentraland. Fun fact: the founder of the famous meme Nyan Cat scooped up the first edition of Graham’s Silver Bomber jacket (pictured above).
Behind the creatively thought-out event was a man by the name of Matt Bond, Founder of Banquet Labs which acted as Mission Control, if you will, specializing in bringing people together in order to create iconic moments such as this one in the Metaverse. With the incredible technical and design knowledge of DappCraft Studios, they were able to create a look and feel that was authentic and awe-inspiring. “We wanted to make people feel like they were there on the moon”, says Bond. Decentraland’s DappCraft Studios carefully re-created the moon setting, complete with the sun shining down upon the moon, engulfing all attendees in the vastness of space. The Apollo 11 came down from above as we all stood on the “moon” watching, and we listened as we heard the broadcast between an astronaut and mission control, just like in 1969. And then we watched as first Armstrong and then Aldrin came out of the shuttle and planted the American Flag on the moon’s surface. To everyone’s delight, Graham’s wearable collection appeared from an explosion of asteroids and most attendees flew around the moon and tried to climb into the space shuttle. Some took photo ops with the astronauts. The goal was to give the feeling that you were actually on the moon right there experiencing the landing, and together with the space-themed music and location of the shuttle above us, they really nailed it.
“Working with a huge entity like NASA and given the importance of the event, we really didn’t want it to feel gimmicky”, says Bond. Mission accomplished. It was a sophisticated and fun as well as awe-inspiring event for everyone. DCL Curations respectfully earned the nickname of “CapCom” after the critical role he played in seamless communication with everyone on the project, just like the Capsule Communicator on a genuine space mission.
Nick Graham checking out the Apollo 11 in Decentraland. Photo Credits: Astrid Pilla, July 24, 2021
Any space-loving collectors out there will be thrilled to learn that Banquet has a few more events coming up centered around other NASA Missions, as well as other sub-based themes. “Our goal is to bring well-known designers and creators into the Metaverse with these projects,” says Bond. In the works also are plans to bring Decentraland-specific creators into the Fashion and Creative industries in the real world, and I’m personally here for it. Imagine the possibilities of such a historic full-circle moment between the Metaverse and the Real World.
A donation to the Aldrin Family Foundation non-profit will be made from the proceeds of this iconic event, supporting their mission to provide STEAM-based education tools in support of future space travelers.
In case you missed it, you can still experience the Apollo 11 event in Decentraland by clicking here.
Watch a recap of the event from DappCraft Studios:
Featured Image Credit: Matt Bond, Founder of Banquet Labs, July 24, 2021
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Axie Infinity, the wildly popular virtual world NFT game, recently hit a series of landmarks that revealed just how successful of a force the game has become and how much more may lie ahead. The virtual world game, which features appealingly designed “pets,” or “Axies”, offers a variety of ways to earn money, from breeding to battling. Steadily building since late 2017, Axie‘s recent explosive growth is now catching attention across NFT and crypto demographics as both a business and community success.
“Axie Infinity Community!”
Axie Infinity, or Axie, for short, at first appears to be a fairly simple concept that reveals its complexity as one digs deeper. In the Axie Infinity Whitepaper, the game is described as a:
“Pokémon-inspired universe where anyone can earn tokens through skilled gameplay and contributions to the ecosystem. Players can battle, collect, raise, and build a land-based kingdom for their pets. It’s also taken on characteristics of a social network and jobs platform due to the strong community and play to earn opportunities that have come from its early success.”
The play-to-earn concept is key to Axie‘s popularity. Axie has multiple ways to earn in the game with more on the way. Just as the “play” side evolves, so too does the “earn” side.
According to its timeline, Axie Infinity‘s development began in 2017 with its first Axie presale in February of 2018. Parent company Sky Mavis was officially launched in early 2018 with headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where it is led by CEO Trung Thanh Nguyen. More importantly, the timeline reveals the systematic development of Axie which laid the foundation for its recent explosive growth.
Growth highlights include:
“Axie Infinity has generated over $39 million worth of total revenue between July 10th and July 17th, 2021…To put into perspective just how astonishing that figure is, in the same span Ethereum and Bitcoin generated $37.9 million and $4.7 million in total revenues respectively.” (William M. Peaster)
“Over the past 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days, Axie Infinity has done more volume than any other NFT Marketplace, including open ones like OpenSea, Foundation, and Rarible, and asset-specific ones like CryptoPunks, NBA TopShot, and SoRare. It’s now third all-time by volume, and amazingly, its past 30-day volume alone would rank third all-time!” (Packy McCormick)
“Today they’re getting ready to surpass Fortnite as the largest discord community in the world.” (Ryan Sean Adams)
Many factors have played into Axie‘s success, from consistent development to great art to the opportunity to play-to-earn. Axie‘s overall set of features already feels quite complete with more to come. However, Axie‘s deeper appeal and perhaps, one day, its historical significance derives from the overlap of community and play-to-earn heightened during the Covid pandemic. A recent documentary explores this element:
“‘PLAY-TO-EARN’ | Trailer”
“PLAY-TO-EARN” is a documentary by Coindesk columnist Leah Callon-Butler. Callon-Butler first wrote about a community in the Philippines, Cabanatuan City, where seemingly everyone played Axie Infinity. Callon-Butler then went on to create the “PLAY-TO-EARN” documentary about the village’s relationship to Axie. Both the documentary and Cabanatuan City are now symbolic of the potentially life-changing economic power of Axie and the community forces that have become part of the game’s power.
As she notes in her follow-up article, the earnings from Axie enabled whole families to play and to earn the money they needed to get through the Covid crisis when so many lost their jobs. While the Philippines is not the only nation where Axie Infinity is popular, it has been the strongest example of widespread uptake fueled by stories of gaming success such as the man who bought two houses with his winnings.
As Yield Guild co-founder and NFTS WTF DAO member Gabby Dizon states:
The most important thing to understand about #PlayToEarn is that we're arming people with hope. Once they understand that their gaming skills can give them a better life, it gives them agency to take control of their own lives and make it better. How many games can do that?
The unique ability of the Axie Infinity team to grow a virtual world game over years and successfully connect to players in a meaningful way is in itself a huge accomplishment. To have an effect on the economic well-being of whole communities reveals Axie Infinity as an example of the potential for NFTs to become a tool for creating a better world.