The Interview-Crypto: Finding Your Identity in the Metaverse
In this podcast, Gabby Dizon of YGG talks discusses how NFTs can represent identity in the Metaverse and how financial and community incentives align in Web3.
The Interview-Crypto features interviews with financial experts from major crypto firms with past guests including Framework Ventures co-founders Michael Anderson and Vance Spencer, as well as NFT enthusiasts like Alexandre Dreyfus. The entire series is available on Real Vision, a financial education channel that releases daily episodes in the form of in-depth analyses, documentaries and interviews.
This episode features a conversation between Gabby Dizon, co-founder of Yield Guild Games (YGG), and Rolf Hoefer, co-founder of Cultur3 Capital, a VC firm investing in token and equity to transform community-driven economies in the blockchain space. As an expert in network incentives and token economy, Rolf is also a serial founder and runs an early-stage crypto hedge fund.
Gabby and Rolf talk about building an identity in Web3 communities, with NFTs being the gateway to unlocking this identity, and what it represents. They also talk about how NFTs can have value and meaning beyond the financial aspect as they can showcase one’s commitment and membership to a certain community.
The following is an excerpt from the discussion. Listen to the full podcast here.
Rolf (12:08): When you talk about ownership in a non-technical way, do you see people thinking of tokens as an extension of their identity, like, “This is who I am because I hold this token”? It's not so much that I can buy low, sell high. It's not so much that if I can vote, necessarily, and if I don't have it, I don't vote, or only I can access it and no one can take it from me. It's really kind of like a t-shirt; the token is an extension of identity, and if that is something you see, are there any examples you see that make that concrete?
Gabby (12:48): Yeah, I definitely see that. And especially when you get to non-fungible tokens because, of course, there are strong communities around tokens. You have to look no further than Chainlink to see how strong it has been at rallying its community around of all things, like oracles.
But if you look at non-fungible tokens, they have even stronger communities because the reason you are in an NFT community is not necessarily or primarily financial. It’s probably easier to make money from trading tokens. People ape into an NFT, because they love being part of a community, and you can see that with the Bored Ape’s community, which has gone really crazy in the last six months or so. And when it launched in May, the mint price was 0.08 ETH for one Bored Ape, and now, you are looking at 40-50 ETH in six months. It is close to two-thirds the floor price of CryptoPunks, which is insane.
Axie Infinity is the same. People really love their Axies and have a strong community around the game, so there is definitely some kind of identity that goes into the ownership of these tokens.
Rolf (16:02): I think there is like an identity versus economic aspect. It’s not just that sometimes when you own an asset it is partly for identity reasons and economic reasons, but if you own it for identity reasons, and it goes up in price, it can go almost against the very reason why you own it on the identity side. Do you see funny dynamics like this playing out in YGG as well, where if people start to make money, they end up forgoing a game or something to that effect?
Gabby (16:34): Well, with NFTs, we actually mint Guild Badges within YGG. We are not a game itself; we are a community that plays these games. So we have several ways for our community to self-identify via NFT. One is the Founder’s Coin, which is something that we airdropped for free last January.
There were 2,800 members in our Discord then, and anyone who signed up would have received a free coin, and 300 people did. And once we announced that we will be airdropping free stuff for them for life, from our partner games and all of that, the price went crazy, and at one point, the floor hit 30 ETH. And this is for something that we released for free in January.
There are 300 pieces of it, and you are not exactly sure what it does, and it has been such a badge of honor for our guild members to be a Founder’s Coin holder. There are people whose lives would have been permanently changed financially by selling it, but they identify so much with it, they don’t want to sell it.
Rolf (17:48): Going away from NFTs as a way to self-identify, I think the other great model that Axie Infinity and YGG kind of made famous was the sponsorship model. So it’s not just that I don't have money, I need someone else to give me these three NFTs, so I can play the game, but it's also more than just an economic relationship. How have you seen those relationships evolve beyond economics?
Gabby (18:20): So there are some really great scholarship managers in Axie Infinity, and the scholarship program is misunderstood by people who haven't looked into it, so there is a lot of, “Oh, you are getting people from developing countries to do the work for you.” But what you are actually doing is making the game better by matching the people who have a high number of assets but no way to play them all to people that want to enter into the economy but cannot afford these assets.
And this is such a wonderful thing to happen to the game. It has made Axie Infinity a lot more inclusive. People think now that Axie Infinity is for developing markets like the Philippines, but most of the first thousand players were from the US and Europe because they were the ones that could afford crypto. And when we got to the play-to-earn model, it became increasingly from people that couldn't afford crypto and wanted a way to earn it. So for me, play-to-earn is one of the most beautiful devices for inclusion that has ever been created.
You can check out the full podcast on Real Vision.