At the end of November, the CryptoKitties craze hit massive new highs - highs so large that it almost brought down the entire ethereum network.
CryptoKitties itself has just raised US$12 million worth of funding from some serious players in the Silicon Valley investor world, while also being laughed at and ridiculed by commentators.
The idea that a digital cat, pretty similar to the old Neopets, but just on the blockchain seemed pretty ridiculous to many, especially when you consider how much some of the kitties were being sold for - as much as $130,000 worth of ETH.
But if you look a little deeper, as a piece by Richard Chen yesterday helped highlight, you can actually see why CryptoKitties is actually really important for the future of cryptocurrencies.
And it comes down to this: toys produce great business ideas.
Chen sights Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, who often tells startups in his incubator about how great startup ideas often come from what most people describe as “toys”.
Graham explains that, “When something is described as a toy, that means it has everything an idea needs except being important,” he said.
“It’s cool; users love it; it just doesn’t matter. But if you’re living in the future and you build something cool that users love, it may matter more than outsiders think.”
One of the best examples of this is microcomputers, something that seemed like toys for hobbyists until Apple and Microsoft began working on them and turning them into serious businesses. The same idea could be applied to Facebook, which was essentially just a way for college students to stalk each other.
Toys, like CryptoKitties, are also an amazing way to test and develop new and emerging technology without the burden of being criticized on any minor imperfection a tool would normally receive.
When you position something as a toy, something fun, it sets it up for a positive reaction. Whereas if you set it up as a tool that’s going to solve a serious problem, if any tiny feature at all doesn’t work, that can become a pain and immediately turn the user of the product.
Tokenising the world is one of the biggest advantages of cryptocurrencies, and one of its most powerful potentials. The idea of tokenising an asset, which is essentially all CryptoKitties is at its core, is going to be something massive in the future. Just like the microcomputer has become.
But by launching it first, by testing the scalability of networks and cost of on-chain computations, through a “toy”, we allow CryptoKitties to act as a real world test. So when the world is ready for the tokenised future, we have solved the key problems, and will have the technology ready to be used for serious real world applications.
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