The Zima Red Podcast: Exploring the Metaverse and Virtual Economies

Gabby Dizon, co-founder of Yield Guild Games, talks with Andrew Steinwold of Sfermion, about a world where people can work for themselves by playing NFT games.

The Zima Red Podcast features interviews with prominent founders, investors, and collectors in the NFT space, who explain the industry’s potential and how it intersects with existing sectors such as finance and gaming. 

Zima Red is hosted by Andrew Steinwold, an investor from the Greater Chicago Area who is also the Managing Partner at Sfermion,  the world’s first investment firm focused on non-fungible tokens and associated assets. Along with being a Partner at Polynexus Capital, a multi-strategy digital asset fund that invests in distributed ledger technologies, Andrew has also invested in projects such as OpenSea, Yield Guild Games, and Showtime.

This episode of the Zima Red Podcast features Gabby Dizon, a veteran of the mobile gaming industry with over two decades of experience as a game designer, developer, and entrepreneur. He helped pioneer the Philippine game industry as part of the team that released the first Filipino-made game “Anito: Defend a Land Enragedin 2003. Gabby is also the CEO of mobile game studio Altitude Games and former President of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines. 

Gabby co-founded Yield Guild Games (YGG), a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) for investing in NFTs used in virtual worlds and blockchain-based games. YGG is accelerating the play-to-earn movement that has seen people from all around the world able to earn an income from playing NFT-based games. YGG made headlines when its public sale of 25 million YGG tokens sold out in just 31 seconds.

This short segment of the podcast takes a deep dive into what the Metaverse is and the impact of NFTs in a modern environment where people can work for themselves by investing in and operating yield-generating assets in blockchain games. Gabby discusses his vision for a future where people will spend most of their time in virtual worlds and explains how YGG is embracing the shift. Gabby is confident that this evolving new industry will eventually supersede old ones in the physical world.

Gabby Dizon - The Future of Gaming with Yield Guild Games on Zima Red, Episode 63

Andrew (38:01): I would love to hear from you, what is the Metaverse and why is it important?

Gabby (38:09): Wow, yeah, it’s a very loaded question and I am glad we are talking about this. I think a lot of people who are listening to this have probably read or watched Ready Player One. The word Metaverse gets thrown around a lot these days and I think it means something a little different to whoever is saying it. For me, specifically what I like to believe in, and what I am working towards, and dedicating at least the next decade of my life too, is an open Metaverse built on interoperable and open standards. 

We don’t want the Epic [Games] Metaverse versus the Facebook Metaverse versus the Google Metaverse versus the Apple Metaverse. For me, that is kind of like Compaq versus CompuServe versus AOL versus The Open Web. 

We want a Metaverse of virtual worlds with underlying economies, assets, items that are built on open standards, and open digital asset ledgers. That is what I am working towards and that’s also why I like seeing the economies of these worlds build on the blockchain or distributed ledgers because that allows for a level of interoperability, the ability to transport your assets between worlds, and that honestly is just not possible if you are using databases between different big companies.

Andrew (39:47): Ok, so is the open Metaverse only possible with blockchain-related technologies? 

Gabby (39:54): Yeah, I believe so. So, for me, what is a blockchain? It is an open, shared, public database that is immutable. And those different parts that are extremely important, the fact that it is public and anyone can plug into it without asking for permission, along with being shareable, which means we can see what everyone else is doing. 

Additionally, you can also build on assets made by others, and then people can insert their assets into your projects, which is also extremely important. It’s immutable and permanent, meaning there is no dispute between what happens in each block. 

I think it is the fundamental building block of the open Metaverse and from there we can build different experiences using the assets that are stored in these ledgers and that’s the basic building block that the Metaverse is built upon.

Andrew (40:54): Alright, so what do you think are the potential positive impacts of this Metaverse that we are talking about. And then what do you think are the possible negative impacts of this Metaverse?

Gabby (41:06): The way I see it, we are building a whole new world, a whole new economy, that is kind of like a parallel economy to the physical one. 

A lot of jobs are increasingly becoming more and more computer-based. They are not physically tied to where you are, and a lot of coordination is now happening between global and remote teams around the world. 

Part of the thesis with Yield Guild is that a lot of these jobs are just going to move online, they’re going to move to the Metaverse and they’re even going to move toward different game economies where you don’t just need players, you need fashion designers, you need programmers, people who can design avatars. 

This will bring a huge influx of new jobs in this new economy and it will be like settling America in the 1700s wherein there is a huge piece of land that is undiscovered and unused, and now it is open to people who have something to bring to this new world. And that is the part that excites me the most, that we can have people from the Philippines who were previously stuck in minimum wage jobs, earning maybe $200 a month, now they can be settlers of the Metaverse. 

I can provide my labor, my skill, to games like Axie Infinity, Formula Delta One, The Sandbox, and get paid for it because I am providing something valuable to the economy. Anyone in the world with an internet connection and a crypto wallet can participate in this. It’s just the most amazing thing to me and I think that a lot of people will see the leveling effect on this economy and have access to build wealth that is not possible based on where they are physically.

Andrew (43:11): So this is pretty sci-fi, but do you think that most people in the future will work, exist, and spend a vast majority of their time in this Metaverse-like environment and going off of that, do you think that people will reduce their consumption of physical goods because they are spending most of their buying power in the virtual world?

Gabby (43:40): So you are asking, are we moving into The Matrix?

Andrew (43:44): Essentially, yes!

Gabby (43:45): Yeah, I think so. And the reason for that is: you are already starting to see people’s “use of status” shift online, especially as people are not really into buying watches or cars. People are now buying CryptoPunks or Mystic Axies. 

As automation takes over, a lot of the jobs in the physical world will be lost. And a lot of people have been worried about this, like, what are these people going to do. As it turns out, the answer is that a lot of these people are going to look for jobs online that will make them money and this is going to be in games and virtual worlds. 

This is one of the important theses for why the Yield Guild exists. We consider ourselves to be the employment agency of the Metaverse. 

And it’s not employment in the sense that people are going to look for 9-5 jobs. I think that people are going to find themselves in different crypto communities, different virtual worlds, maybe part of a DAO, a small group, earn tokens, be incentivized by a token, or a community that grants NFTs. 

Honestly, this is just the future of work. We are starting to see it now and it is only going to accelerate. If it feels sci-fi to people who are listening to this, maybe 2-3 years from now it won’t feel so sci-fi anymore.

Andrew (45:23): Awesome, so what is your grand 5-10 year vision for Yield Guild?

Gabby (45:31): I want Yield Guild to be the best collection of yield-bearing assets in the Metaverse and at the same time we want these assets to be used by our player base to build wealth for themselves. 

In a way, it’s a combination of, “We want to be the Berkshire Hathaway of the Metaverse”, building the best collection of NFT assets that produce yield, but in a sense “We also want to be Uber” and we want our players to be using these assets to earn money for themselves. 

On top of that, we also want our player base to own as much of the network as possible. We don’t want the token holders to be mostly VCs. We want the wealth to be redistributed to the people who are actually playing these games. We want to improve a lot of lives around the world, especially for people who have not been able to access these opportunities as an investment class before. We want to be one of the greatest wealth-levelers that the world has ever seen.

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