Why is Tezos’ Co-Founder Working on Games?

I think you mentioned in the
recent Fortune article that, "Just as all philosophy
is a footnote to Plato, all collectible card games are a
footnote to Magic the Gathering." So, talk a little bit about how you
think in particular you can replicate the success that Magic has
had in real life with what you're doing with Emergence. The bar
is set pretty high, but go ahead. The reason I say it's
a footnote to Magic the Gathering is literally that was the
origination of the genre. And arguably, you know, I guess you could talk
about the presocratics, but Plato's really where it starts. And so, I like my Whitehead and it's not a
complete article about me if I don't drop that quote. But in any
case, so basically — what I tried to — when I met with this gaming company who
contributed to the Tezos fundraiser, it got me thinking about, well, what exactly are we trying to
do with blockchains anyway? Because there was a full closed-loop
digital economy that needed — or they felt they needed — a blockchain.

We talk a lot about how cryptocurrencies
can revolutionize traditional finance. And that's very much where a lot of the
fervor for DeFi comes from nowadays, is the idea of replicating
these traditional structures in a decentralized way. And that's all fair
and good, but at the end of the day, you're trying to replicate
these highly complex systems. And we don't know so much about the end
points and the failure modes for these things. And so I thought a better form
of experimentation would be to delve into games, which are fully digitized,
and closed-loop in a lot of ways, and really cut my teeth there and try
to give a good experience in the gaming space and then extrapolate and kind
of build more towards the traditional financial sort of replication use
cases that I think are ultimately more compelling for cryptocurrencies.

But the technology needs to mature and we need
to know more about how people deal with them. RPGs are kind of ridiculous. I would have to basically be running
a movie studio and I can't run a movie studio. Collectible card games, however, were kind of interesting because Magic
the Gathering was extraordinarily successful — is extraordinarily
successful — in physical format. But it's always lagged in
its digital representation. And part of that is because Magic the
Gathering is extraordinarily complicated. There have been 18,000 cards created.
And so you can just imagine — digitizing that is insane. And for
better or worse the people at Hasbro, which owns the franchise, have always
tried to be very, very true to the game. And just some parts of it just
don't digitize very well. You know, you have to tap to confirm every single
movement that another player will make for example, and that just doesn't
really register in today's digital world.

And so I tried to think of something that
was particularly broken that had that bad economics where blockchain could help, and this collectible card game genre
really stood out to me because even in things that were digital
first, such as Hearthstone — which is the most popular digital
collectible card game on your phone — you don't really have a
proper secondaries market. And so people wind up in
very boring play patterns. And they aren't really able to experiment
with the same philosophy that you would be in a collectible card
game that's physical first. So that's really my jumping off point. I tried to survey a game that really
struggled to digitize and had failed its economics that way, that really left a physical first transition to digital
as the outstanding one. And I guess I'm just lucky that the kind
folks at Blizzard have not discovered blockchains before me..

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