A full 50 years ago this week, I was born. I have somehow transited through life from analogue to digital without a single blink, gasp or why-are-we-doing-this. I have always believed that we should move ever-forward towards greatness, like Picard said, on a “continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations.” I listened to shortwave radio as a kid, I’d save my money and then blow it all on Pole Position. I put 10p in a public telephone to have a 2 minute chat with my friends before the beep, beep, beep ended the call. Can you relate? I built Playstation classics with actual gods. Then later I would get a hotmail account, I’d type a/s/l in any chat room and fell in love in Japan. I mastered DDR. I couldn’t wait for the Beastie Boys to release their new album on MP3 even though Suzanne Vega got there first. I tattooed Cloud, Red XIII and Vincent on my arm because my battlegroup is strong. I taught young people to make video games (some of whom are really high profile now), and I left them to work with robots. I bought bitcoin, and figured out NFTs from jpegs to metadata. I developed digital fashion and pivoted into speaking about everything that has changed from analogue to digital through the eyes of the omnipresent metaverse in everything we do. It’s been an amazing 50 years of diverse—and not always—but mostly inclusive technology. What a time to be alive. So let’s tread on a few mines and explore the news stories of the week.
Shock/Split: Which newly separated web3 tycoon is hoping to pay alimony with crypto?
Meow Wolf has created a living breathing metaverse. For a little while now they've been working on a larger entertainment complex called Area15 (see what they did there?) It's got 20 acres of a Universal Studios horror experience in it. Monroeville, PA seems like the perfect setting for this interconnective lollapalooza called Omega Mart—but this is Las V, babies.
A few years ago, when I was at Gamescom, I went to the Cyberpunk 2077 event, and CD Projekt Red had created this narrative experience from inside the world of the game but IRL, which was seamless of course. Though I get what Meow Wolf are doing here, I feel a bit like this has been done before and better and not as an art installation. The Cyberpunk event, for me, was far and away better than the game (sorry guys), it was something that was native and understood to everybody that was in the room; it didn't feel as though it was some kind of strange in-joke between a bunch of developers.
My feeling at the Omega Mart is that although they're doing something that's really intrinsically linked to everything, in our life and in our space, they've created a multiverse of multicultural experiences that homed in on the melting pot of America except not everyone is invited to understand, let alone attend. Sure, there are elements to what it is that they have created not from “hypnotic animations” of “energy and mood shifts” between experiences. But moreover, they created things that really feel like they belong to you, a kind of reverse engineered digital existence where everything digital is analogue native. Though it feels contrived because it’s not entirely inclusive, I believe that what they are doing here is attempting to put the end user (that’s you) at the point of CPU. An immersion which makes you the connective point or conduit. Connectivity in/and/of the metaverse is the only thing I really care about, and so should you. Interoperability is the basis with which we can have a longer conversation about inclusivity and diversity, but I don't really feel like we have to go backwards to go forwards.
Overheard at a group pitch event: “What I’m seeing here is the British Leyland of Blockchain.”
I really love talking about the role of education in web3, you know I like to tell you that Hundo is killing it out there with democratising education for everybody (but mostly Gen-Z and Gen-A). Therefore, I thought I might enjoy reading about how NYU (the New York University, School of Professional Studies), is focusing on a web3 learning workshop to explore the underlying technology that powers innovation… in sport.
I love a Sport Billy as much as the next person, and yes, sport management is really important to the future of media and entertainment but teaching and learning in a tiny corner of business management (yes I know it’s more than that), to uplift the basics of blockchain and digital assets and the utility in the sports world is really tenuous and I’ve been had by my team over a press release.
This is web3 sport management for web2 peeps. Innovating upon things that already exist like trading cards, football cards, baseball cards, Panini sticker books is a FIFA/NBA/NFL/NHL wet dream. The course “presents opportunities for the next generation of strategists and consultants,” but damn it's very limited. Why don’t we just do the Hundo?
From a recent Twitterspace on web3 “my plan is to be more like OnlyFans and less like The Apprentice.”
The Seinfeld Solution
Marketing in web3 is mostly done badly. Like that conservation piece on the apse of a mediaeval church where some god looks like a hamster: this is marketing in web3. Someone who tells you they are not a gynaecologist but will take a look are the types of folks who have no business in your, er, business.
No one understands web3. And those who do understand it are quickly hamstrung by using web2 tools to do a web3 job. So what is the point in trying to develop a system, standard or platform to build marketing on top of? “There hasn't been a systematic way where people can interact with web3 businesses” according to the founders of Sesame Labs. And there's a really good reason for that. It’s because not everybody knows how to use web3 and after reading their pitch, I’m not sure they’re helping us to understand this area better. It is absolutely vital that we work with platforms and individuals who are adept and erudite when it comes to web3 businesses. But those skills are very few and far between because this sector has a lack of lasting value. Therefore, a flash in the pan doesn’t make for a sound business need outsourcing the marketing of a web 3 project unless you can actually show value and success ratios on both sides. Things like Facebook ads or Twitter ads we know aren't successful because they don't use on-chain behaviours. Companies like Google Analytics don't work because they can't track on-chain data either. So if the one thing that these guys are doing is focused on tracking, and being able to present information then that's amazing. But if you want exposure of your product into millions of mailboxes I would joke and say that you should reach out to me at metacrun.ch but like my original tattooist once told me “you don’t choose me Kelly, I choose you.”
Incidentally, plug-plug, we’re the only publication focused on rankings for the metaverse and NFTs and starting this week, digital fashion. We're also the only Discord-first and Telegram-first heavily subscribed news platform. We try not to use web2 tools wherever possible. But this isn’t magic. It’s not a massive leap to be able to figure out how to strategise your marketing in web3 on your own. Conclusion? Raising $4.5 million to help improve web3 marketing tools just feels a little bit like a walled garden in and of itself.
Open All Hours: Who started their successful career in game development by letting out a render farm from the alleyway next to a kebab shop in Balham?
Meanwhile, in the games industry...
Mino Games have raised $15m to create their Dimensionals web3 game. This is very cool for a couple of reasons: 1. The Mino Monsters series has always been web2, but now they’re moving to web3. 2. Game first to web3 is THE ONLY WAY to do web3 games and games NFTs.
Some games industry “veterans” whatever, they couldn’t find a female advisor, so it’s another sausage fest, no problem. If the game is nailed in this early phase the rest will fall into place. Otherwise, why on Earth would Boost VC, Collab Currency, Earl Grey Capital, and Konvoy Ventures be all in with Standard Crypto leading the round?
They’ve previously been invested in by SYBO Games, and Andreessen Horowitz raising $25m to date. But forget about all that because this is a stupid time to give up equity. It’s a great time to develop a user facing web3 experience. And if it’s anything like its web2 predecessor—this Fire Emblem meets Pokémon could be a nice little play to earner.
Right said Fred on Twitter: “Unfortunately I can’t take on any unpaid work to help you make money at this time. Thanks for thinking of me though.”
Auf dem Zug
Paris Blockchain week is back for its 4th time this year. It's apparently the leading international conference dedicated to professionals in blockchain and web3. As someone who lives in the Crypto Valley of Europe, however, this is my first time hearing about this leading international conference. Mark your diaries for the Carrousel du Louvre from 20-24 March 2023 (that’s GDC time—see ya!) where some of the leading lights of the blockchain and web3 world will be in attendance. As someone who lives in the Crypto Valley of Europe, I have only heard of one such leading light in that list. Focusing on tech building, public policy, enterprise blockchain and open finance it all sounds really interesting. If you are really into this, then this is definitely a place to go. If you are mildly interested in this, then probably just go to the Blockchain Hub in Davos when you are next there because it is THE most exciting place for Blockchain and web3 lovers. Alternatively you can just hang out in the Crypto Valley of Europe. But if you like Paris, obviously go to Paris.
Pen Island, Louisiana
Speaking of spending a night in Paris, SHE’S BACK! To be fair, she never really went away. Paris Hilton; the self-proclaimed Queen of the Metaverse is hosting some kind of dating thing called Paris Land. Please, no, be serious, this sounds nothing like Love Island. No, this is Paris Land. PARIS LAND.
Now here’s something we all definitely need: our perfect match. Paris, from Paris Land is going to provide players with potential romantic partners. In Paris Land they will participate in tasks, they will choose wedding rings and outfits. There will be love burgers, which are reminiscent of a dodgy cartoon movie I saw in my teens, rescuing a castaway (you know, which isn’t reminiscent of anything) and flirting with other contestants before making their choice of partner. Then they'll have a wedding with Paris from Paris Land DJing for the new couple.
Wait… Is it 2001? Am I locked in some weird space time non-continuum where the last 22 years of feminism and gender freedom are effectively burned to a cinder like an overdone love burger? When I stopped puking directly into my mouth at the thought of having to get married. Again. My thoughts went to the Sandals Resort where you can go on honeymoon with a wife or husband of your choice and fantasise about the guy or girl cleaning the (pool) pipes.
My point is, besides this idea of perfection and pink being somehow idealised for a dangerously bland generation, where is my freedom? My freedom to choose! No one gave me an island in World of Warcraft or RuneScape—I was free to a/s/l and flirt my greaves off. You know, Blizzard and Jagex were never brand activators. They cared (and still do care) deeply about their players. Something every single metaverse developer might have to learn the hard way. This isn’t Paris Land, this is Pen Island (this is also Pen Island).
Sad face: Which metaverse giant is about to announce some of the most shocking layoffs in tech?
World Wide Wobble
When crypto data website Coin Kickoff looked at 1.6 million tweets from different parts of the world to determine which countries are in favour of the metaverse concept and which countries oppose it, my interest piqued. This armchair anthropologist was delighted to draw a line between the progressive web3 movement and the regressive nimbys who are literally more obsessed with what we call things and how we label stuff than what we actually experience. When humans first picked up an apple did they want to label it? No, they wanted to make sure it didn’t poison them. Yet here we are, with a bunch of countries who, let’s face it, are up there in the richest countries of the world failing to adapt to a changing landscape presumably because it’s not in their ruleset toolset.
Meanwhile in Vietnam, Philippines, Ukraine, Nigeria and Indonesia these folks are McLivin’ it. When I looked at the list of metaverse lovers, it was clear that the thing uniting these folks is mobile first technology: gaming, banking, communication. The rich kids may well be innovative trying to name the metaverse “The 3D Web” (it will probably catch on) but they live in more analogue contactless societies that aren't entirely joined up with everything in society (how are the ID cards coming along in the UK, boys?) From healthcare to driving, from money to mums there’s a long way to go until the west is joined up, and why would they be? They’re way less digitally fluent than their African, Asian and East European counterparts. From now on I’ll be making all my metaverse projects focused on happy demographics in the metaverse, to hell with negativity! It’s 2023.
That’s quite enough Metaverse for this week. I'm off to prepare the most hilarious Twitter space that you will have encountered in quite some time.