Gaby Dizon, CEO of Altitude Games, believes that the sci-fi-inspired metaverse of virtual reality is emerging around us at an accelerating pace. Metavers refer to different online worlds that are connected on the basis of a form of sharing economy. Typically, this economy is blockchain-based, says Deason, who also runs Yield Guild Games.
Although he says we are still in the early stages, blockchain-based games like Axie Infinity and The Sandbox are already developing strong gaming economies. Dizon believes this phenomenon will accelerate as ever-increasing automation makes it harder for people to find a job and a place in society.
Many people will lose their jobs in the physical world, and what will they do? I think they’re going to go online and play games. More specifically, they will start playing games to win money.
This is nothing new, as the inhabitants of hyper-inflated Venezuela have been mining virtual gold in the game RuneScape for years to feed their families.
Dizon’s game design studio, Altitude Games, is based in Manila, Philippines, where many Filipinos are holding their own during the endless COVID-19 blockades by making and selling NFT creations known as Axies. Although his game development company started with free games, he now helps develop the entertainment economy through a game-to-game model.
He believes that rethinking the game is the answer to some of the world’s problems. Gaming has the potential to level the wealth inequality that currently exists in the world, he says optimistically. This model is particularly relevant in developing countries, where it is already a reality.
In 2020, he co-founded Yield Guild Games, a guild of investors that bought a portfolio of NFT profits in a blockchain game series.
Playing the game
In the past, players would only pay once the purchase price for video games that offered endless fun, with levels unlocked by progressing through the game. Then came pay-to-play, where players had to make small purchases to unlock levels or skills to progress.
Free-to-play is another model where you can play for free, although you can usually buy Perks. These games often have item purchase boxes that contain random items in the game. This has proved controversial, with EU regulators finding these design features problematic and some countries, such as Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain, believing this to be a problem. B. Belgium, considered it a form of gambling.
Gambling is a somewhat radical term that implies that players actually make money by playing, usually by completing tasks to obtain items that benefit other players. An excellent example of in-game play can be found in centralized multiplayer games like World of Warcraft and Runescape, where players can earn in-game gold that they can then sell to other players in exchange for departures on exchanges like DMarket.
Dizon says the problem with many gold mines in games like World of Warcraft and Runescape is that gold transactions are usually done in sweatshops, increasing the supply of the game’s currency. Game items have become more expensive, making the game more difficult to play. These games were not designed for this kind of inflation, so their value was eventually sucked out and harmed the overall game economy, he continued.
Blockchain games are a different story.
In the Philippines, gamblers can earn three times the minimum wage by playing hit games. Although video games are a free or low-cost activity for many people around the world, not least because of the global blockades around COVID-19, more and more people are realizing that there is money to be made from games:
These are players who play League of Legends six hours a day. Then they see on Facebook that some of their friends are getting rich playing this game and think: How is this possible? So, they appear in our Discord.
Once in the Yield Games guild Discord channel, they quickly learn the basics of getting started. This includes setting up a Metamask wallet and safety tips to never hand over personal keys or email phrases. Yield Games is currently focusing on teaching newcomers how to make money in Axie Infinity. In this game, players buy, breed, trade and fight creatures called Axies. Since the game is played with little love potion tokens that can be easily redeemed on Uniswap and other DEX, there is real money involved.
You don’t have to be particularly talented or highly educated to do this. You have to know how to use a computer and have a cell phone with internet and gaming capabilities, and then you can start making money, Dizon says.
Deason says the key to making the game real is making the process easy to understand. Knowledge of blockchain technology is not required. When I want to drive a car, or when I start a car, I don’t necessarily know how an internal combustion engine works, he explains. You don’t need to know how a distributed ledger works to use it in a game context.
Bring PI home
Mr. Deason remembers being surrounded by computers since he was three years old. His first computer was a 1981 Commodore VIC-20 that his father – an engineer who often traveled to the United States on business – brought with him to the suburb of Manila where Dizon grew up. He became interested in games when he was six years old. He remembers that the Commodore had several games – Hangman, Chess and one or two others.
He studied at Ateneo de Manila University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems in 2000. I wanted to make games, and it was hard when I graduated because there were no companies making games, he recalls about the lack of game studios in the Philippines at the time. His first job was web development in PHP, but when he saw a game developer job opening in Manila three years later, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Deason recalls visiting the Anino Entertainment game studio after submitting his application. Several people slept on sofas during the first game in the Philippines. I loved that energy and have played games ever since.
In the 2000s, the Philippine IT industry was almost entirely based on outsourcing. Dizon had his own outsourcing company, FlipSide Games, where he managed Filipino designers working for foreign clients from 2005 to 2009. But this interaction with him was uncomfortable because he felt that his countrymen were being wronged for not getting the intellectual property rights. Rich countries have exchanged money for the fruits of Filipino creativity.
The most common case is that of an American, European or Japanese who outsources his work to the Philippines, where the workers are paid a fixed rate, but does not actually create his own intellectual property. I got really tired of it, so I closed the shop.
In 2009, he joined Boomzap Entertainment, a small independent company that developed its own games in Manila. They created their own intellectual property, and that’s what I really wanted to do – create my own intellectual property, Dizon proudly recalls.
Four years later, in 2014, he became restless and decided it was time to start working for himself again. I knew the next step was to have my own company again, but this time I was creating my own intellectual property, he says. Dizon founded Altitude Games, a studio that develops free-to-play games in Manila. The games include Dream Defense and Kung Fu Clicker, the latter of which has been downloaded over a million times.
His company struggled to raise capital because local investors did not understand the business model for creating local intellectual property. International investors were also reluctant to fund a game studio in the Philippines.
Fundraising was very difficult, and it was very unusual for a Southeast Asian startup to raise money quickly, he recalls. There was a sense that all of Southeast Asia was lagging behind, always having to catch up with more developed countries.
Doing what others did ten years ago didn’t please Mr. Deason. He wanted to be at the forefront of technology. That’s why the company stumbled upon blockchain.
For the first time in my career, I felt like I was at the forefront of a trend by learning about smart contracts at the same time as almost everyone else in the world. You can be one of the world’s leading experts in a particular field and live in the Philippines.
The company’s first game, Battle Racers, allows users to design model cars and race them in Decentrand.
Here’s a more detailed roadmap for developing Battle Racers! ️ Who is looking forward to the $SCRAP contest and its rewards?
Last year, Dizon founded Yield Guild Games with the help of 2,500 investors from around the world. The company is investing in blockchain revenue generating NMTs and plans to transform the company into a decentralized, self-sustaining organization.
The guild owns the entities in these games, he said, referring to the game elements that take the form of NFTs, such as in-game real estate. In addition to Axie Infinity and The Sandbox, blockchain games the Guild has invested in include F1 Delta Time, League of Kingdoms and Star Atlas.
The beauty of these blockchain games is that they are on the market from day one. We actually work with the developers, so we invest in the economy and of course our players get a share of the profits from that.
Mr. Dizon sees his work as pioneering the way forward for the future metropolis. He is also a collector of NFT artworks, which he exhibits at the Narra Gallery in Decentral.
Update to my art gallery @CollectorshubA – too many new works to list. Watch it here: https://t.co/dBUWMWdcW9 pic.twitter.com/xQJ5OI5AM4
– Gabi Dizon (@gabusch) October 3, 2020
We provide the manpower to populate it [the Metaverse]. We get applicants from all over the world, and we give them the same opportunities, whether they are from the Philippines, Nigeria or France, he said, adding that Metavers does not discriminate based on skin color, age or place of residence, barriers that Dizon himself has experienced.
To me, it’s like populating a new nation like we populated America in the 1700s. We now populate a digital nation with people all over the world looking for a home.
Dizon is confident that employment will increase, from gaming to cleaning. There’s a whole range of jobs in the Metaverse, and it will be less and less about killing monsters and making loot, and more and more about doing what it takes to keep the city alive, he predicts.
Dizon points out that a variety of skills are needed to create these virtual worlds, including programmers, artists, modelers, storytellers and architects, to name a few.
He has advice for all ages, from everywhere, who want to join the revolution.
Start by joining a community and adding value to that community. […] As long as you add value to the community in the metaverse, you will fit in.