Cryptokitties at AxiomZen Labs


The AxiomZen building is amazing, located on The Great Northern Way in Vancouver near the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  It was a warm day and after the deliberation, for 20 minutes on what to do with a sweaty t-shirt, I decided to bike down so I could track some more kilometres for the great cycle challenge.  It was a good decision, helped me avoid some of the construction going crazy in the city and a very relaxing ride.  After a quick wardrobe change on the street, I wandered up to the 6th floor for the event.


I was really impressed with the turnout, the room was packed and there was a wide range of ages so I didn’t feel out of place with all the young, smart people.  I had a bit of food, they had some nice Indian dishes and did my best to not mingle without looking like a weirdo…meaning I found a seat and started browsing through a book on “Burning Man” at the sticker table near the door.  Some really great people wandered by and I had a few nice interactions with people about preferred stickers and the like, huge win for an introvert like myself.

I was hunting for a cookie and then a seat and to my surprise, I spotted a coworker at one of the tables, serendipity at it’s finest.  I went over and said hi, while we were talking her wonderful husband dropped off some food he had found foraging and she kindly offered me one of her cookies.  One of the speakers announced that we would soon be starting and I plopped down on a stool near her table. In the stir, she introduced me to a couple of friends sitting near her, another introvert win.


The first speaker was Roham, he had a very commanding presence and explained the purpose of Dapper Labs.  It was a great introduction and left me wanting to know more about the talented people in the company, definitely a good lead up to the main event.

Next up were Dieter and Kim to talk about the main focus of the mixer: Cryptokitties.  My impression was that they were very passionate about the product and curious about where they could take the technology/ product and it was infectious.  Monetization seemed to be less of a focus for the group and they talked more about how the product had grown, the direction that their community was taking it and the types of issues that they were facing both in security and scaling.  

The scaling issue wasn’t really something I had thought about for cryptocurrency and it points to a definite need to focus more on this if cryptocurrency is going to replace modern currency in banks and financial institutes.  It was lovely to see this work is driven by a video game and as Kim pointed out shouldn’t be surprising as video games are always pushing the limits of technology to satisfy the gaming community. They talked a bit about Layer 2 scaling which in my simple mind boils down to sharding but I am actually more curious how chatty they are with their API calls and if any optimization could be done on the client.  I come from a gaming background and in my experience, there is a mind shift required to differentiate between interprocess chatter and network chatter. In a financial system, this might not be possible but…maybe?

The next speaker up was Benny on Digital Tokens as Art.  I’ll be honest this was amazing and ethereal at the same time and yes, that was an intentional play on ethereum, the cryptocurrency that Crytpkitties uses.  The talk gave me a view into some of the things that could be done with this type of technology, persistent shared ownership in art, property, companies and pretty much anything.  He also talked a lot about how technology could be used to preserve history and foster a sense of community, an interesting way to look at currency and definitely a value add to the kind we currencies we currently work with.

I’ll be honest I hadn’t looked at Cryptokitties before the show after I did go home to sign up for an account.  The sign up was mostly seamless, a few different layers of security including email, 2fa however I balked at the requirement to upload a passport photo or other form of identification and emailed their support on that one.  I have signed up for cryptocurrency before and this seems to not always be required and it would be my preference not to upload this as it opens an attack vector for identify theft. That being said I do believe that we are going to see this technology show up more in games and hopefully that will lead to a legitimization of it for other uses for the average person.


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