The Herald is a community-driven newsletter that surfaces and spreads the best ideas about Loot, and the emerging hyperverse it inspires. Thanks for being here.
If this article didn't arrive in your inbox, consider making it arrive in your inbox. It only takes a few taps and clicks. Join 1,291 Adventurers by subscribing here:
It was a busy week for Loot. You can find new projects and project updates at the bottom of this email. But first, read some words about games, memes, and the NFT Chain Rule.
"You are standing in a dark room and can't see anything. There's a torch and a match. What do you do?"
— Little Angela Moss Mimic to Adult Angela Moss (from the show, Mr Robot)
A wild game appears!
I love games.
That's a pretty unusual thing for me to say, because I rarely play games - at least not in the conventional sense. Nevertheless, humanity is essentially multiple games running simultaneously, its players immersed in their game's world, keenly aware of its rules, driven to despair or catapulted to glory by the game mechanics. Finance, law, technology, politics, sociology - these are all games.
It's turtles - and games - all the way down.
All games are unique in their own ways, but they all share some things in common:
An immersive world with its own lore, and;
Rules governing the established world.
Games need worlds and rules crafted by an architect, and players to explore those worlds and perform actions that yield desirable outcomes within the established rules. In this sense, a game gives players Common Knowledge - a shared understanding - that allows them to collaborate or combat in chaotic ways that serve the purpose of the grand design.
A game that is tightly controlled by its architect has finite worlds, constraining rules and a definite end. Many games are finite in this regard, and chances are that if you think of a game right now, you can imagine the start and stop.
Yet, there are so many games that are infinite. These games have worlds that only exist to generate more worlds, with rules existing only to maintain narrative and relational cohesion between its infinite worlds and players.
Tickets to the game
On the 27th of August, Dom Hoffmann (creator of Vine, and Peach) announced the launch of Loot in a tweet. The TL;DR version is that Loot is a decentralized game world constructed on the back of NFTs with infinite outcomes for the players.
A much longer, easier-to-read explanation:
If you remember games like Dungeons and Dragons (or, generally, MMOs and MMORPGs), you know about 'Loots', desirable artifacts that are found in your game world: the enchanted swords, invisibility cloaks, sashes of enlightenment, wand of protection, love potions, etc.
Loots are the collectibles of the game world. You can pick up Loot after completing a challenge, defeating an enemy, or you can buy Loot with coins. It goes into your 'Loot bag' or treasure chest, and comes in handy when you need it!
Collectible items are part of the foundational structure of these games. Loot Bags are a simple list of these collectible items, minted as collectibles of the NFT world.
There are two ways to react to this: the cynical way ('wow, a list of eight phrases? Oh my goodness!'), and the game architect way.
Remember, every game needs a game world and game rules. Dom has clearly invited us to think of the Loot Project as a game, and it's fairly easy to see that the world is a Fantasy world, with mages and dragons, orcs and wizards, potions and spells.
So, what are the rules?
That's where it gets interesting. Instead of a bounded, finite game, the Loot Project is actively, almost defiantly, designed to be infinite and unbounded. Here are the rules of the game:
Stats and images describing what the items look like for each Loot item are deliberately omitted, giving the collectors full creative license to go wild in reimagining their Loot Bag. The official website itself encourages it, saying: "Feel free to use Loot in any way you want."
Naturally, the value of the Loot Bags have shot through the roof. In typical NFT projects, this makes it difficult for late-comers to participate meaningfully in the community without a lot of cash to throw around. Loot Project gets ahead of that with something called Synthetic Loot, which allows you create your own virtual Loot without minting anything. There's also mLoot (the 'm' stands for 'more'). This way you can be part of the community and create your own derivative projects (more on this soon) without prohibitive costs.
Loot is truly open source: there is no gate-keeping, and no licenses to worry about, which means you can do anything you want with your Loot, and it's considered fair use.
Loot Bags (and More Loot Bags) are not just NFT collectibles, they are tickets to the game. Keys to a metaverse. And with Synthetic Loot, everyone with an Ethereum address is invited.
Meme together strong!
Now that we're all caught up, let's get to the kernel of this piece.
A few weeks after Loot was launched, the CEO of Figma, Dylan Field (@zoink on Twitter) made a thread about something he's titled the 'NFT Chain Rule'. The thread is worth reading, so have a look:
Dylan Field's NFT Chain Rule says that the value of a meme is proportional to the number of derivatives based on it.
As far as the classical definition of a meme goes (and not in the biological sense - sorry, Dawkins literalists!), a meme is a snippet of culture and behavior that moves through a well-defined population at viral speed, with the meme mutating and becoming altered to suit the context of the people infected by the meme.
No one is immune to memes. Our language itself is millions of memes in a trenchcoat. Long after we've seen a movie, heard a song or witnessed another political shitshow on television, what remains is memes, discrete packets of culture we pass from one person to another like a game of hot potato. Like Chinese Whispers - another game! - we inject something into the meme before passing it along. With thousands of people mutating copies of one original meme, meme virality is survival of the fittest in practice: the best-adapted meme wins, and the more successful meme adaptations there are, the more successful the overall meme becomes.
Enough meme theory.
The kicker is that our oldest-enduring understanding of memes within the context of Games follows the finite game model. Large corporations or individual creators retain tight control of their IP, and creators buy into the meme by creating derivative projects ('fan art', or 'fan fiction'). Even the IP owners create derivative products in the form of merch, spin-offs, sequels and prequels (like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a backwards-compatible extension of the Harry Potter Franchise).
The reason Loot is so special is that, unlike our old understanding of IP and the memes that they allow, Loot embraces the meme. It enthusiastically welcomes all memes, all derivative projects, every single spin-off. As long as you have tickets to the game in the form of Loot Bags, More Loot Bags, or Synthetic Loot, you're encouraged to build your world on top of the Loot Metaverse.
If Dylan Field is right about the NFT Chain Rule, and if there's even a sliver of truth in the idea that memes mutate and adapt for maximum propagation, then original NFT creators of the future will start adding extendability to their NFT smart contracts, allowing other creators piggy-back off of them.
Dylan Field @zoinkIntroducing the “NFT Chain Rule” Definition: a meme’s value is proportional to the number of derivatives based on it. Thread (including some thoughts on @lootproject) below ⬇️ (1/21)
There are good and bad ways to make a derivative meme. The golden rule is: you want to extend, build upon and stay faithful to the DNA of the original meme. If you're considering building upon a meme with a derivative NFT project, here are some guidelines for community buy-in and the blessings of the meme gods:
You want the maximum number of the original NFT holders to mint your derivative project. This is commonsense - when you're building your world on top of an established world, buy-in from the original members gives it legitimacy.
Make it easier for the original NFT holders to mint your derivative project. This closely follows the previous rule: baking in a smart contract check that allows original holders to mint for free or for significantly lower fees will tremendously help with adoption of your derivatives.
If you don't do (2), you're effectively asking someone to fork your derivative project if/when it doesn't get off the ground. That's why you need to lower the community adoption costs for your derivative.
Remember the one rule I said is crucial to the creation and maintenance of an Infinite Game? A minimum set of rules to maintain narrative and relational cohesion between its infinite worlds and players. Derivative/meme projects must extend, rather than rewrite the rules of the original project. Even though a meme mutates across the population, it must not contradict or undermine its blueprint. As Dylan put it, your project should be a "yes, and".
I look forward to a time when we have multiple branching timelines like in MCU's Phase Four, and we have Keepers of the Canonical Loot, From Which Stems All That Is Consistent With Lore.
A breadcrumb shows up!
🏗 New Projects
🛠 Project Updates
MetaFactory @TheMetaFactoryMetaLoot luxury blanks embroidered with your unique bag of loot 1/1 hand crafted in Berlin https://t.co/5Hc00n4LPF
Both Snapshot votes end today —
🗣 The Back Page
Meet the Contributor
Want to contribute to The Herald? Reach out on Twitter
All contributors are invited to The Herald's private Discord - a place for writers, artists, and builders to hang out, share ideas and collaborate.
NFT.NYC Meetup (for Adventurers)
The Loot Herald is planning a meetup for all Adventurers who will be in NYC during the week of NFT.NYC - Nov. 1-4. Please fill out this form so we can gauge headcount and figure out a location.
Month 1 (for Loot)
Edition of 50 — 0.05 ETH
Buy this 1/1 NFT today to:
Commemorate the awesome craziness that was Loot Month 1.
Support the creators behind The Herald.
Funds from initial sales and secondary sales royalties will be used to pay newsletter contributors - artists, designers, developers, writers, videographers, etc.