The Evolution of CryptoKitties

CryptoKitties are like Neopets re-incarnated on the blockchain. Mix in the extrinsic and intrinsic value of holding them, and it feels like you’re back at the elementary school playground trading Pokemon cards.

The platform is simple: with Ether in your Metamask wallet, buy kitties, breed kitties, buy and sell more kitties. Kitties are colourful. There are solids, stripes, splotches, Dali whiskers, regular whiskers, different eye colours, random ‘ascensions’ (i.e., genetic mutations) and Fancy Cats! It’s exciting.

But the most thrilling element of all is the game’s evolution through selective breeding.

Selective breeding is the process by which breeders choose traits and subsequently an animal’s genetic mix, that dictate features like gender, intelligence, appearance and health. In the case of CryptoKitties, selective breeding creates biodiversity and enables debates on sires vs. dames, solids vs. stripes, brisk vs. plodding cooldown and so on.

There are two types of selective breeding:

  1. Breeder’s Approach
  2. Controlled Natural Selection

Breeder’s approach is 100% selection conducted by the breeders (CryptoKitties today). Controlled natural selection is the natural selection process as we know it, but with a premeditated sample group.

In order for CryptoKitties to properly replicate artificial selection — if at all — there are certain operational cattributes that are necessary. As a dog person transitioning into a digital-cat lady, I want to have confidence in the genome of my future offspring.

Below are a few *pressing* questions on the evolution of CryptoKitties:

1.Will there be more clarity on the genealogy of a kitty? (E.g., My Gen 0 aqua sire and pink & green striped dame just birthed a yellow and purple feline goddess and I’m confused. Are these the ‘ascensions’? Where is when you need it?)

To properly inform market prices, purchasing power and breeding plans, we require critical information about the genetic make-up of kitties, that will be passed on to subsequent litters. The free market will dictate which features are of the highest value, but we need to know the potential outcomes of the bun in the oven.

Logically, solid kitties would also eventually become the most valuable as they would remain “pure-bred”.

Furthermore, how will market behaviour dictate kitty features or ‘ascensions’? Aside from catching on to which kitty mutations and breeding patterns can create a Fancy Cat, will statistics such as # of sales or # of litters influence genetic make-up? (E.g., some women who’s feet swell during pregnancy will experience permanently larger feet after childbirth.) If market activity impacts kitty genomes, it makes it a lot more difficult to “figure out the characteristics” that lead to a Fancy Cat. Challenge accepted.

2. In addition to siring with your own kitties or choosing sireable kitties from the marketplace, will there be a “controlled natural selection” option?

In essence, can CryptoKitties go rogue and choose to cross-breed with kitties that are part of a “selected litter” — a CryptoKittribe if you may? And if the ecosystem evolves into tribes, could we begin to see varying evolutionary patterns? (E.g., Tribe 1 is a species of domestic kitties, while Tribe 2 is jungle kitties — lions, tigers etc.??)

3. Do generations signify age or simply reference the timing of the kitty’s origination? What implication does speed to reproduce (cooldown) have on a kitty’s age/tenure? Can CryptoKitties die?

If so, is the breeder paid out the value of the kitty at a smaller multiple than if it was sold in the marketplace? Similar to a foreclosure auction? Or do CryptoKitties disappear into the ether along with your ether?

As the Ethereum community welcomes tokenization (the development of keepsakes, not data security) and the value of CryptoKitties is increasingly derived from appearance and health; we the breeders must be better informed about the evolution of the CryptoKitty genus.