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  • Writer's pictureXeo Lye

Why We are Designing a Cryptocurrency Board Game | Cryptocurrency Game Design Diary Part I

Representing the Cryptocurrency World Accurately

During the Summer of 2017, Major financial news wire around the world started to take note of a new rising asset class: Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. As Bitcoin passes the $5,000 mark and news of newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires started to capture the imagination of the masses, people started paying attention and brave investors started to explore into the wild wild west of cryptocurrency. Tech savvy people started to buy mining rigs to mine cryptocurrencies, hoping to unearth what is the equivalent of gold, in the digital world. Shortly after, new cryptocurrencies are created via initial coin offerings (ICO) and some of these creators became overnight millionaires. However, many of these ICOs and newly minted cryptocurrencies are simply scams in disguise, hoping to rip off the unaware investors.

We starting asking ourselves, can we create a game, that can portray the dangers of cryptocurrency, while representing how it works accurately on a board game.

After months of extensive research, we came to the conclusion that there are 3 mechanics which we want to portray in the game.

Cryptocurrency Mining

One of the most fascinating aspect of cryptocurrency is its ability to be mined by ordinary people on the streets. Imagine the gold rush of the 1840s whereby people rush to the wild wild west of America to mine for gold with spades and pickaxes. Instead of sweating it out in the hot sun, you just have to purchase a high speed mining rig and let it run in a cooled room, in order to mine cryptocurrency. However, just like real gold, it gets harder and harder to mine as time goes by as the supply gets lesser and lesser. On the other hand, miners will get more and more transaction fees as they help to validate buy and sell transactions as the cryptocurrency gets more popular. This real world mechanics have been portrayed quite accurately within the board game.

Cryptocurrency Speculation

Other than Bitcoin, most of the other cryptocurrencies are relatively new to the market with limited quantities of of supply in the market. Just like a stock with limited liquidity, many smaller cryptocurrencies are prone to market swings when big traders sell or buy. The more aggressive traders even took a loan and double down on their bets. To reflect this effect in the game, we created a mechanic whereby buying and selling cryptocurrency will move the prices. We also designed a high interest loan mechanic to portray the risky leverage strategy used by some of the traders.

Cryptocurrency Prices are Driven by News and Rumors

Many traditional investors rightly pointed out that it is almost impossible to valuate cryptocurrency, given that it does not generate value like a company, or have a manufacturing or cosmetic purpose like metals or gems. As a result, much of the volatility of the prices are affected by news, rumors and gossips. We created a rumor mechanic which can be manipulated by players and this mechanic is instrumental in deciding which of the cryptocurrency is a scam. Half of the rumors are hidden and only the players who play them knows the actual value, which will result in a lot of smoke and mirror talk during the game, in order to deceive players from guessing which cryptocurrency is potentially a scam, which will result in the value of that cryptocurrency falling to zero at the end of the game.

Are We Pro or Anti Cryptocurrency?

As the word of the board game started to spread, we were approached by interested parties asking us whether we are "Pro" or "Anti" cryptocurrency and what stance does the game take. The Pro camp believes that cryptocurrency is the technology which will bring in the next technological revolution and should be actively promoted to the masses, while the Anti camp believes that it will bring nothing but grief to all those that participate in it. We strive to create a game that is stance "neutral", just like any responsible journalist, reporting on the facts and figures and letting history decide whether this is a force for good or for destruction. We have however, no doubt that the block chain technology and cryptocurrency will eventually evolve and this game will help the masses get familiarize with some of the ideas, terms and mechanics behind.

The reviews from our playtesters, which come from all walks of life, have been fantastic, and this includes cryptocurrency experts and tabletop enthusiasts. We are looking forward to bring this board game to the market!

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