Pop-up economies have been all the rage in 2019. Since Austin Griffith pulled off ethDenver giving BuffiDAI to about 4000 participants, the blockchain community has understood that all the tools are ready to do a widespread blockchain onboarding. We have fast and cheap transactions, stable currencies, and easy user experience. LeapDAO, a decentralized organization focusing on scalability has stepped into Austin’s footsteps and operated pop-up economies at Blocksplit and the Cannes film Festival demonstrating the use of Plasma and NFTs to do payments and manage digital rights.
While pop-up economies for payment of goods demonstrate known use-cases with blockchain technology, the possible field of application is much wider. “Serious Social Games”, games that affect players in a tangible way, and are not participated in for pleasure only, are an effective means to bring about awareness, change behavior, and influence social patterns.
Social Dist0rtion Protocol, a freshly formed DAO, is leading the development of Planet A — The Tragedy of the CO₂mmons — a serious social game bridging two events taking place at the same time: EthBerlin and CCCamp 2019. Social Dist0rtion Protocol has for the first time demonstrated a game for the Chaos Communication Congress 2018 — Hunt Zuckerberg.
Their new game will begin as a pop-up economy incentivizing participants financially to interact with each other via a burner wallet using the Göllars token. Half way through the game, attendees will find themselves in a tragedy of the commons, as they find out that their greedy interactions had dangerous emissions that now threaten to collapse the economy of the events. To simulate the disastrous effects that global warming has on our planet and on our economy, the game will heavily influence the price of the goods available during the conference. The only tool they have to fight climate change and save the event is to invest part of their capital to plant trees and lower the amount of CO₂. They enter as teams into a competition to educate each other and prevent an economic tipping point to be reached. The team that manages to achieve the best climate score wins the event.
By actively influencing the economy of the event, the game blurs the line between players and non-players, incentivizing participation and interaction. Screens deployed around the conference will act as information radiators, showing the current concentration of CO₂, the top polluters, the top tree planters, and the price inflation.
While the tragedy of the commons affects the global economy of the event, Social Dist0rtion Protocol decided to add a local dimension to the game and challenge users by putting them in front of a dilemma. When interacting between each other, users have to secretly decide if they want to collaborate or defect the person they have in front of them.
The interlocking of the prisoner’s dilemma and a version of the tragedy of the commons that Planet A creates is not meant to prepare the players for a dystopian future of cryptocurrencies ruling their world. It is rather intending to relax the player and show that the world is not meant to be taken too seriously by putting a game in a game in a game. As Eric Leventhal puts it:
The sacred stillness of your brilliant heart has as the myriad wonders masqueraded. But if you knew this secret from the start, then you’d have quit this Game before you played it.
The player might understand through participation that global problems are not hopeless and that by changing our behaviour and effective coordination, we can make a difference. Maybe such games can even show that blockchain technology holds the key to free humanity from falling into multipolar traps, but for sure serious games are a tool for mass adoption 🚀
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