Do you like sushi? Are you a betting person? And how do you feel about blockchain technology? These seem like rather disparate questions, but there is a method to this madness, I promise. Just open your mind a little bit.
We recently published the first instalment of a new two-part series, “Top 5 most interesting NFT use cases“. On that piece, we told you how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have found their way into some unusual corners. If you haven’t read that article yet, we recommend that you do.
Today, we bring you the second part of the series, and we have some interesting content to offer.
Sushiverse: Raw NFTs
Sushi is a savory Japanese dish, and though not to everyone’s taste, it has become ubiquitous in Western areas of the world for many years now. Traditional Japanese sushi usually features seafood (often raw), vegetables, and rice. Sushi is low in fat, but rich in protein, vitamins, and other good stuff. And sushi is now rich in crypto goodness too, thanks to Sushiverse, a new NFT game featuring ‘10,000 programmatically-generated best-dressed Sushi in town,’ according to the Sushiverse website.
The game creators refer to Sushiverse as ‘the magical land of fragrant rice, fresh seafood, wasabi, and all that yummy goodness.’ Now, all this might sound a tad cheesy, and from a certain point of view, it is, though one could argue that Marvel movies are just as cheesy, and yet, they are both money spinners and a representation of a cultural phenomenon. And that is precisely the point. It is not the object or the thing being represented (sushi, in this case, or comic book heroes and villains in the case of Marvel films.) The point of NFTs is that they represent a culture shift, a movement that no one yet knows where it will lead. The (in)famous Beeple NFT heralded a new era in digital art.
NFTs enable artists of all kinds (painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.) to not only have their work turned into unique digital pieces that may (or may not) accrue substantial value. They also create opportunities for the diversification of business models, to carve out paths where none existed before. And the heart of this revolution is the issue of ownership. Through NFTs (and the blockchain networks that underpin them), artists can retain ownership and control of their creations, without having to rely on costly intermediaries to help them publicize, distribute, or commercialize their art.
Horse racing, digital style
People and horses have had a long history together. According to scholars, these elegant animals were first domesticated around 3500BC around the vast steppes of southern Russia and Kazakhstan. Insignificant as this might seem, the domestication of horses meant a fundamental advancement for early human enclaves. Horses enabled transportation of people and goods, a stronger military capability, faster and easier plowing, and other key advantages. In these ancient times, horses were venerated and represented prestige and standing.
Much later, horses began to be utilized for recreation and sporting purposes. For example, chariot racing was a prominent sport and entertainment event in ancient Greece, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire around 648BC. (Rome’s Circus Maximus -Biggest Circus- was purpose-built for chariot racing and other popular events. The structure stood four stories high and could accommodate a very respectable 200,000 (or thereabouts) spectators.)
And it was around this time too that mounted horse racing events began to emerge both as a marked event and a rather lucrative business.
Horse racing continued to evolve, and by the 18th century, it had become a commonplace event in places like Britain and France. Indeed, horse racing was long considered an ‘elite’ sport, to be enjoyed by high society types. (Thoroughbred racing became associated with aristocracy and royalty, particularly in Britain, where it came to be known as Sports of Kings.) A new professional sector emerged, as horses are large animals that are expensive to house and maintain properly: jockeys, breeders, trainers, etc., became much sought-after careers because of their association with nobility and wealth.
In the ‘real world’, horse racing is a rather expensive business. Proper care of a horse requires facilities, staff, and a whole lot of financial resources, which are beyond the reach of most people. But today, thanks to the power of blockchain and NFTs, the common man can enjoy the illusion of owning a horse, and see it running to victory (and maybe even making a bit of money!)
Earlier this year, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) engaged in a partnership with NFT project Virtually Human Studio (VHS), a startup that, according to its website, is a ‘project studio exploring the boundaries of entertainment. We experiment with emerging technologies in gaming, art, sports and digital collectibles.’
VHS operates ZED Run, a digital horse racing game running on blockchain, and featuring NASCAR-branded horses.
In ZED Run, people buy, breed, and sell digital racehorses (in NFT form, of course). And it is far more affordable experience than the ‘real’ thing, too. Whereas a live racehorse costs upwards of $75,000 (a Thoroughbred can cost substantially more), their NFT counterparts are a bargain, comparatively speaking. And where real-life races carry a stake upwards of $2,000 – $3,000 just to enter the race (and, depending on the event, can be much, much more), you can enter a virtual race with just $2.
It gets better. ZED Run has proven quite popular. The platform has around 125,000 active players. Belgium brewing company Stella Artois recently partnered with ZED Run to create exclusive racehorses and branded 3D racetracks.
NFTs are funny things. Intrinsically worthless, yet some can fetch millions at auction. These pieces of digital technology keep popping up in new, diverse environments every day. We are seeing a steady influx of new NFT ecosystems coming online.
This concludes our two-part series, but this is hardly the end of the NFT story. We have a lot more material to bring to you over the coming weeks, focusing on NFTs for the gaming industry. We will give you a fascinating look into the infinite possibilities of the metaverse, and how virtual worlds are the next frontier for NFT gaming.