Crypto-Experiences: The future we didn’t know we needed, by Lightblue’s Simon Walsh

By Simon Walsh, design director, Lightblue.

Simon Walsh

The digital universe is one of infinite possibilities, but it is yet to harness the engagement, excitement and most importantly the soul of the real world. And it’s likely it never will, but with the mainstream of current NFT’s where digital art and fashion are flourishing, I believe these are just steppingstones in what could become a new digital matrix.

Before you think, not another NFT article, I am not talking about NFT’s in their current state, but the potential of what NFT’s can do for the state of live experiences and how they currently play a fleeting role in our lives. I believe that with the inevitable addition of Crypto-Experiences as NFT’s in the digital universe we just got a whole lot closer to creating hybrid experiences which will connect us and generations to come.

NFT’s seem to be taking over the world recently and if they are still news to you, don’t worry, you’re early and there is still time to get involved, innovate and disrupt the entire space. If you don’t know already, NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, a unique cryptographic token or in layman’s terms, a digital product that cannot be replicated and lives on a blockchain that you can own.

There is also already big money flying around, Steve Aoki has sold an animated collection of art for a total of $4.25m and has claimed “NFT’s are a juggernaut that cannot be stopped”. While digital art and fashion seem to be leading the way, a virtual plot of land has been sold for $1.5 million dollars, taking us a step closer to making Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One a ‘reality’.

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To most, the thought of spending such a vast amount on a non-tangible commodity is ridiculous, but times are changing and the digital universe is the now, and the future. Just look at how gamers used to be perceived as nerds in their mum’s basement whereas now they’ve become inspiring personalities and successful professionals in their field, with gamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins making up to $17m last year. NFT’s are actually more reliable too, the authentication or scarcity is easily proven. Counterfeit sneakers are a $450 billion market, a nightmare for the economy and intellectual property rights. This means Crypto-Experience could spell the end for fake fashion and ticket resellers such as StubHub, who drive up prices for fans to make a profit.

In this day and age, we know that experiences are more valued by Millennials, Gen-Z’s and every other generation over products; after being robbed of our favourite past times throughout the past year, experiences have become even more appreciated by individuals across the board. So, what if an experience can be owned and revisited whenever you want through the blockchain? The problem with live experiences is memories fade, special moments can be forgotten and those feelings you felt become dulled over time. The beauty of NFT’s is that they are effectively immortal, they do not erode or decay. So how do we gain the same emotional response from the non-tangible digital experience?

Regular digital experiences are already taking off, the pandemic expedited them into our everyday lives, and as people crave the return of live events, none have been more successful than the countless DJ sets. However, they are no substitution and can be forgiven for being somewhat soulless. The key to success in the future of Crypto-Experiences lies in the combination of NFT’s and technology to create an experience that can be shared with friends and family which resonates on a personal and emotional level.

The first link is the obvious, and one already being adopted by some events. Extended reality enables guests to have a first-person view of any event, this means if you secure a ticket to the biggest show of the year you will be rewarded with the best seat in the house and the guest journey will be tailored to create the perfect experience, so no more standing in long lines to end up behind that tall guy blocking your view of the gig. Instead, you enter a world where everything revolves around you, the stage, lighting and sound design is created specifically for your exact location in the event. Not to mention the infinite creative possibilities of animated physics-defying content which can be integrated into any three-dimensional digital world. A perfect example of this is how Travis Scott created a surreal and spectacular show for Fortnite players. The event showed glimpses of the potential of live digital experiences, but I believe it is just the beginning and we will soon see specially designed hardware and software which will blur the lines between the digital and physical world.

The next barrier Crypto-Experiences will have to overcome is that digital experiences are soulless. Most are currently individual with friends only appearing in a chatbox; this is where NFT’s have a big role to play. As NFT’s on the blockchain become more readily available, people will be able to create and personalise their own digital and unique avatars. Photogrammetry, the technique of creating accurate 3D digital models of people (used by game developers such as FIFA) is already starting to become more readily available with the development of Apps where you can create your own avatar model straight from your phone. When you combine this with NFT’s instant love for creative fashion houses, in the not too distant future, expect to be at a live event and be able to interact with your friends dressed in all kinds of weird and wonderful digital fashion items expressive of each of their own individual personalities – Suddenly digital events are far less isolated, and you can instantly connect with those around you.

The final piece is immortalizing the Crypto-Experience on the blockchain itself. By purchasing live events as NFT’s means experiences are far more attainable and accessible to people from all over the world. If your favourite band is performing on the opposite side of the world, you no longer need to invest in flights and hotels to enjoy their performance you simply purchase the Crypto-Experience as an NFT. Those who secure rarer, more exclusive tickets, will be able to meet their heroes in the equivalent digital green rooms, interacting with their heroes on a personal level from wherever they are in the world. This accessibility extends far beyond globalization, but also through time. Imagine being able to go back to the best live event of your life, surrounded by all your friends and family and being able to experience every second all over again, or even rediscover moments you missed.

So where the world is currently craving experiences over possessions the irony is that through non-tangible commodities, people will be able to purchase and possess experiences for the rest of their lives. Even passing treasured memories down through generations. In the future we will not be showing our kids blurry vertical iPhone videos of a stage off in the distance, saying ‘I was there’ but passing down the experience itself for them to enjoy. With all of this in mind, I believe that NFT’s will become far more than non-tangible commodities but evolve into digital memories of treasured experiences.