In my first article, I gave a brief introduction to the Lepricon project. In this article, I would like to talk about how my background in video games led to the idea for Lepricon and why I believe so passionately that gaming and gamification are essential to the general acceptance of digital currencies and blockchain in the future.
Thus, the story of Lepricon began over 20 years ago as I embarked on my gaming career.
It’s all in the game
My first job was in Quality Assurance at GT Interactive, where I worked on Epic Games Unreal Tournament. I then transitioned into a Producer role at GodGames, the original publisher of Remedy’s Max Payne, among many other AAA titles. Later, GodGames was acquired by Take2 Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games. You might know them as the publishers of the Grand Theft Auto games series.
In 2001 I moved to Hong Kong and Co-Founded En-Tranz Entertainment. En-Tranz was the Asian publisher of the MMORPG Shadowbane, which was published by Ubisoft in the US and Europe. Shadowbane was unique among online games at that time in that it emphasized player governorship. Guilds, Buildings and even cities were owned by players and the decisions on wars between cities were made by the players themselves, not decided by any quest line. This was my first glimpse at the potential outcomes when you give players real power to effect change. I was reminded of this more than a decade later when I first encountered the concept of the Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, a model implemented in the creation of Lepricon.
In 2004 I moved to Malaysia to found Dragonback, a pre-Valve Steam digital distribution platform that supplied technology, content and value-added services to Internet Service Providers in South East Asia. Here my attention was focused on creating platforms and delivery mechanisms for content and applications and the challenges therein. Remember, this was before Valve’s Steam, the App Store or Google Play. Lepricon’s success will be dependent on its usability as a gateway to entertaining content for the players that join it.
In 2011 I founded One Zero Digital, a Hong Kong-based agency that represented many publishers, developers and technology companies, and it is here that I really started my transition to mobile games where much of my focus has been ever since. It is also where I first worked with publishers of social casino apps such as KamaGames who made Pokerist then the second most installed social poker game, insight from which is very much present in the Lepricon model.
In the mid 2010s I began to encounter a growing number of people from the world of crypto as I attended major gaming events around the world and I started to take an interest in Blockchain and digital currencies. Digital currencies were not new to me. The Shadowbane project, now nearly twenty years old, had its own currency. In fact, anyone who published or played games from World of Warcraft to Cafe World would have been very familiar with the concepts of in-game currencies and digital collectables, something we would now refer to as non-fungible tokens or NFTs. The parallels with blockchain were immediately apparent.
I began to realise that at some point blockchain and games would collide and the outcome would be a disruption of seismic proportions. This led me to an opportunity which allowed me to develop my understanding of cryptocurrencies while still putting my business development skills to good use. In 2016 I put One Zero on hiatus and accepted a position at Plutus VC, a venture capital fund that invests in blockchain and initial coin offerings, as Vice President of Business Development.
During this time, Plutus managed a US$200 million fund invested across many verticals including blockchain and incubated a US$300 million gold-backed stablecoin.
One of the challenges for cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related enterprises is growing beyond the core base of very active early adopters that still dominate the market today. It was evident to me that this would be achieved through the applications that used the technology. Blockchain should not be the point. The utility and experience delivered by the application are what matters.
I also realised that one of the key channels which could drive adoption would be gamification; that is the use of gaming elements and experiences to encourage people to use applications that incorporate blockchain technology.
And this is where the idea for Lepricon started to take shape, a platform for a very specific form of casual entertainment, prediction games. This seemed the logical first step for two specific reasons.
First, there is a readily identifiable audience for this type of content. In the UK, for example, they bet on everything from the winner of a football match to the sex of the next royal baby!
Second, blockchain offers immediate benefits to this type of activity. Random number generation, a core requirement for many of our apps, can be done fairly and transparently and the results stored on the blockchain which prevent any disputes or cheating. And the governance token (think in-game currency) can be blockchain-based, again creating trust and transparency.
At the same time, other developments were taking place in the industry. Decentralised Finance (DeFi) was solidifying as a concept along with the applications that would employ it, known as dApps. The market also became used to the concept of a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, where the entity would be run on strict rules governed by computer code, and the holders of the operating token would have voting rights on significant developments.
By January 2020, the path for Lepricon became clear, incorporating all of these ideas.
Lepricon is an idea that has its roots in both gaming and blockchain, but it is important to note that Lepricon is an entertainment company. We seek to entertain our users. Blockchain simply enables us to do this with greater trust and transparency.
It is also the first step in the most significant disruption the gaming industry will have seen since the launch of the Playstation.