Fortunes were lost when the Bitcoin bubble popped. Near the end of 2017, one unit of the digital currency had been worth US$17,900. Just 52 days later, its value had crashed by 65 percent, with other major cryptocurrencies—like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash—suffering similar shocks. Anyone who had poured their dollars into crypto at the height of its hype lost huge amounts of money.
Vancouver software engineer Tom Chan, however, saw an opportunity to help. His friends and family had invested in the currencies at the worst time, with few truly understanding what they were or how they operated. Deciding to put his knowledge of the gaming industry to work, he created a virtual trading game identical to the real-world crypto market in the hope that individuals would think critically and educate themselves before placing cash investments.
“About two years ago…people had just started getting into the crypto space without doing their due diligence,” he tells the Georgia Straight by phone during a visit to Hope. “The thought was, ‘I can get rich quick, because someone has already gotten rich, so I’m going to spend my whole life savings on it.’ For me, it’s not right. It’s not a sound way to invest.
“There was an information issue, where people created these ideas but there was no transparency behind it,” he continues. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we create an educational game where we introduce people to different blockchain projects and cryptocurrencies while having fun trading them?’ For us, we wanted to make sure that people don’t keep losing money, and we wanted to have a safe and a risk-free way to have people experiment with it.”
The game, named Altcoin Fantasy, is easy to play. An individual who signs up to the free website or app chooses an in-game contest to join. Every wannabe trader starts out with US$100,000 and is able to buy any cryptocurrency or ICO token that they wish. More than 2,000 coins are open to invest in, each tagged with performance graphs and information about their special characteristics or the products that they are tied to. At the end of the competition, the person who has made the most virtual money from their picks wins, with prizes ranging from real-world crypto like Bitcoin or Ethereum to subscriptions for trading analysis tools.
“We provide you with the names and info about the coins to get you more into the research mode,” Chan says. “The other thing is that if you just don’t know what to buy, we actually show you what the leaders are holding. We are very transparent as to what the top players are trading, just from an educational perspective, so you can look at those coins and see how that person got to where they are, and research that way. That’s been helpful for a lot of our users.”
In Chan’s opinion, it’s important that all people start to get comfortable with understanding crypto and blockchain, especially because it’s his belief that the technology will eventually underpin some of the world’s most important services.
“The statistics are that less than one percent of people hold cryptocurrency. We think that for the 99 percent of people out there, they haven’t been really exposed to it. I believe that blockchain technologies and projects are going to drive the next innovation wave. I don’t think all of them are going to do well, but I think that for the underlying blockchain that powers a lot of these projects, there is real merit with decentralization and specific applications. Altcoin Fantasy gives you a safe space to learn.”
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