As you most likely have noticed, there is a huge NFT craze going on right now.
Some of them seem exuberant with six, seven or even eight digit sales. Some are based on some fad where people know will eventually blow up, but are living with the “next fool” principle of joining the party while it lasts, while others are there for long term bragging rights and self expression.
Now, being a pioneer in the field of gamification since 2003 and having worked on virtual worlds since 2006, I definitely believe in the future of NFTs and how it powers the upcoming Metaverse.
The Metaverse is particularly interesting to me because it is the intersection of all my passions and expertise: Gamification, Virtual Worlds, VR/AR (I spent some time as Head of Creative Labs & Digital Commerce for HTC VIVE), Blockchain/Cryptocurrency (I was also Chief Experience Officer of Decentral, working with Ethereum Cofounder Anthony Di Iorio), and NFTs. Even my economics degree back in UCLA help me conceive and craft a flowing economy that is balanced and thriving.
Also, being an advisor to many blockchain-based companies, I was also informed that my book Actionable Gamification has been a must read in the NFT world.
This led me to think deeply – what is the NFT that I could believe in? What would have lasting power, is meaningful in how it’s constructed, and can connect to the inevitable Metaverse of the future?
For that, we need to break down why NFTs are valuable in the first place.
NFTs retain their value because of three components: 1) Scarcity, 2) Meaning, and 3) Community.
If you apply my Octalysis Framework, these correspond to three distinctive Core Drives –
- Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience
- Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling
- Core Drive 5: Social Influencer & Relatedness
Scarcity is a built in function of NFTs. By limiting the quantity that is released in the world, things become rare.
However, the quantities are often still arbitrary based on the releasing party. The releasing party could release 10,000 of these NFTs this week. Then, a month later, they could also release another 10,000 if they wanted to.
It theoretically could be like a central bank printing more money based on how they see fit (I understand fiat money is not non-fungible but the point still stands).
Similarly, even though Diamonds are relatively abundant in the world compared to other gems, the De Beers company withholds the world’s Diamond supply to create artificial scarcity, which in effect massively increases the price of each Diamond in the marketplace.
Meaning is one of the most critical components on whether an NFT should have lasting value or not.
Sure it’s unique and scarce – but what does it represent and why should people care?
I have a friend in Denmark who owns a pretty beat up couch that he cherishes greatly, because it was a couch that Winston Churchill owned and hence has great meaning.
However, if there was a company that could suddenly mass produce 50,000 Winston Churchill’s couches anytime they wanted, suddenly the meaning – hence value – would be greatly diminished.
Similarly, Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, sold the image of his first tweet from 2006 for $2.9 Million.
However, if it was a random person who took that same image and tried to sell the NFT, it would not be very valuable because the meaning came from the legitimacy of the agent who released the NFT (Jack Dorsey).
Finally, there is a Community piece.
Most things, including money, are only valuable if enough people believe in their value.
When you get any form of currency, you must believe that someone else would see this currency as valuable and would exchange their own goods for the currency you have.
Community creates a social agreement where people here believe in the (hopefully) lasting value of this NFT.
There is also the psychological effect of safety in numbers – if there are a lot of people in the community, we automatically feel like something new is safe and trustworthy.
Having recognized and credibility people be part of an NFT community adds more legitimacy and enhances the social proof, making the NFT more sought after and hence more valuable.
So what is the NFT I believe in? The premise of Metablox.
So as I search through my own knowledge and the literature in value-systems, I wanted to find out what has more-than-arbitrary scarcity, has true meaning to people, and therefore could grow a vibrant community with lasting value.
The end conclusion is a concept I now call Metablox.
So what is Metablox? It’s a Metaverse/NFT concept that is an embodiment of real world locations and real life memories.
What has inherent scarcity in the real world? Gold and real-estate.
Whereas gold and oil are generally fungible, real estate is non-fungible, as every address and building on it is unique. The scarcity and non-fungibility of real-state is what makes property prices rise up massively over the years while becoming lovable homes for people who live there.
What has lasting meaning? The memories of people. In this world without human memory nothing is meaningful. This is why even the wealthiest people in this world care about building their legacy or “being remembered,” because if everything is forgotten, nothing matters.
Generally, memories are connected to a place – whether it’s physical or virtual. That’s why many other NFT Projects try to install meaning into their platforms by introducing theme-based fantasy locations or utilizing good storytelling techniques to make their NFTs more meaningful.
On the other hand, real world addresses and locations already have meaning built into them – it’s the story of our lives!
For instance, I would want to own an NFT of the street address 2011 California St. in Mountain View because that is where I ran one of my first startups while living with three other guys in a two bedroom apartment.
I slept on the couch next to the kitchen every day for a year and it still has some of my fondest and most meaningful memories.
Of course, this address would not have that much meaning for anyone else in the world besides myself because of my unique memories and the meaning that it created for me.
But there are many other locations that have unique memories for hundreds or thousands of people because of the things that happened at that location.
In that sense, we are creating an NFT that honors peoples memories.
With the principle of real world addresses and real life memories, I can then apply my gamification design skillsets to create an ecosystem that is engaging, dynamic, and honors people who spend more time and care to record their memories and maintain their NFTs.
Overtime, these NFTs will grow in their own value but also produce “MetaRent” that can be used to do a variety of interesting things beyond that.
Currently, I’m applying my decently-recognized Octalysis 5 Steps Design process to define the whole experience of Metablox and will be announcing some really exciting things once we get to a variety of concrete milestones.
As per all NFT projects and opportunities in life, the earlier you get in on it and start engaging with the community the more rewarding it is for you. Early visionaries always benefit the most if something takes off (of course, they take the most risks too if things don’t work out).
Very excited about where the future is going.
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