Who Will Win DeGeneration Game?

I’ve caught another viral bug this week – Wordle. Don’t worry, the apparent typo in the headline is neither a symptom nor an error but will mean different things to different generations. Generation X might think of a TV game show, Bruce Forsyth, Larry Grayson, conveyor belts or catch phrases like “Didn’t they do well?” and “Shut that door!”. At the other end of the gaming-age spectrum, millennials and Generation Z will spot the “Degen” word-play and think of ‘degenerate’ (reckless) traders of crypto and ‘meme’ stocks, or frenzied auctions of Bored Ape Yacht Clubs, Pudgy Penguins and Cryptopunks in the NFT world, or crypto scepticism and FUD(fear, uncertainty and doubt), or mantras like “HODL” (hold on for dear life) and “YOLO” (you only live once). But…why do I conflate gaming and trading? Let’s dig a bit deeper into Generation Z and why Wordle won a viral audience.

Generation Z is the first generation not to know what life is like without a mobile digital screen to connect with the world. That might seem like an additional feature of Gen Z life but then consider the following:

  1. Generation Z are more optimistic about buying their own homes than millennials but the reality is that home ownership is still a long way off for Gen Zers.
  2. More than half of Gen Zers work a “side hustle” ie opting to juggle more than one source of income.
  3. As “digital natives” one might think Gen Zers are ideal candidates for remote working, hot desking etc. That would be a wrong assumption. Forbes reports that 90% of Gen Z desire and value a human connection in their professional environments.
  4. A 2019 report from 5WPR found that two thirds of Gen Z men say gaming is a “core component” of who they are.

This writer’s sense is that digital connectivity is not so much an add-on feature for Gen Zers but rather a “compensation” or substitute for deficits experienced at home, at work or socially. The desire for “human connection” referenced above, or community, seems a powerful driver for Gen Z. If we go back to a simple online word gamed like Wordle its virality could possibly be explained by the following factors:

  • Shared experience
  • Community platform
  • Competitive
  • Fun
  • Global/Diversity of players
  • Simple user experience/technology
  • Friendships are maintained/built in digital spaces

When we consider the Web3 world of crypto trading, NFT collections and metaverse experiences all these factors, except for simple user experience, are applicable. However, for the purposes of today’s article I want to focus on the concept of community and the rapidly growing importance and value of building communities. Only this week a predecessor of Wordle was purchased for $12.7 billion. Game publisher, Take-Two Interactive, and owner of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ will have noted the significant player communities on Zynga’s word game ‘Words With Friends’ but I’m sure the true target is Zynga’s more famous farm management game, Farmville. Ok, deep breath.. we need to talk about digital “real estate”.

There have been a few articles in recent times, as well as Zuckerberg visions of our future, where it has been suggested that the mix of an individual’s experience of the physical and digital worlds will change significantly. Arguably Gen Z is already there when you consider screen user times of up to 10 hours a day. However, take that data a step further and consider a future where home ownership and workplace is less certain for Gen Zers. It is possible that digital real estate will be a way of joining a community and enjoying a form of competitive exclusivity, fun and shared experiences. Sound mad? Think again, think new communities and check out the following developments and headlines from recent days…..

  • Metaverse Group, a real estate company focused on the metaverse economy was reported to have bought a piece of land in Decentraland, another virtual platform, for $2.43 million.
  • In February 2021 Axie Infinity, known to our readers here, sold nine of their ‘land’ parcels for the equivalent of $1.5 million.
  • It’s not just new Web3 companies buying into the trend. PWC has also dived in with a purchase of real estate in The Sandbox, a virtual gaming world, for an undisclosed amount.
  • The Seattle NFT Museum is due to open in weeks and will feature digital works on loan from NFT owners and artists/creators.

The last development might seem like a “real world” initiative but actually it touches on the point of validation, even celebration. This hints at the potential need for digital real estate where trophies, wins, fun and passions can be safely shared with a like-minded community. There is no doubt the NFT and crypto trading world is populated by many who wish to define themselves, have fun, meet people and occasionally gloat or even spend $200,000 on a CryptoPunk profile picture. City wide boy Lambo(rghini) meet crypto(currency) king. The commentariat might scoff in these early Web3 days but you do get the sense there will be digital, connected worlds eventually. The numbers are getting interesting too…

Early metaverse real estate pioneer, Decentraland, has seen its ‘population’ of registered profiles grow by 3,300% to 800,000 and the value of its token, MANA, has rocketed by 4,100% to a market cap of $6.5 billion – thanks to www.readthegeneralist.com for those data points. And for those querying the descriptor ‘real estate’ a virtual stroll through Decentraland will reveal buildings, casinos, bars, shopping malls, concerts and red light districts(don’t ask!). Indeed, Samsung who are sponsoring the Seattle NFT museum opened their “837X” presentation at the Consumer Electrics Show(CES) as their “launch in the metaverse”.

As cryptocurrencies continue to fall in value this week get ready for a renewed level of scepticism on Web3 and its associated platforms, tokens and technologies. However, before you join the Casssandra commentariat re-read the factors and motivations listed above which drive Generation Z. Then check your own average daily mobile screen time for the past 7 days. There is no denying that most pf us already share a significant part of our daily lives with the digital world. Then is it too mad to think our experience of the digital world is due a super-speed Moore’s Law upgrade in the coming years? I suspect not. In fact, if people like Packy McCormick at www.notboring.co are correct about us all being part of “The Great Online Game” then the winners will be those that actually play…..and learn. Game on. What a wonderful Wordle we play in !


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