Christmas NFTs, anyone? Imagine – it’s the morning of the 25th, and little James, Paula, Jose, and North race downstairs to see what’s under the tree. But they don’t find any boxes or wrapping paper, oh no; instead, Santa bellows, “Open your MetaMasks, kids!”
The thought of giving digital images as gifts may have sounded ridiculous even a few years ago. But if you’ve got a crypto enthusiast in the family (or if you are that crypto enthusiast yourself), you may have gotten (or given) a few nifty JPEGS. Because this year, the perfect holiday gift is non-fungible tokens (NFTs.)
Deck the Halls with (Punks and Doodles)
So what’s the big deal with NFTs? It all started in March of 2021, when the space seemed to go from 0 to 100 overnight. One day, the world had never heard of NFTs. The next, tokenized pieces by Grimes and Beeple were selling for millions. Today, the NFT market is worth more than $27 billion.
Despite their growing popularity, many people struggle with NFTs: what they are, how they work, and what they actually do. They don’t see NFTs as having a practical purpose. And if you’re a Web3 native, you’ve probably had the conversation with many friends and relatives already. They ask, what’s the difference between owning the NFT and simply downloading an image? Can’t anyone do that for free, after all?
Don’t worry, take a deep breath. By the end of the conversation they will be begging you for NFTs, and ones that are displayed with augmented reality (AR) to boot.
Christmas – the digital gifts explainer
Here’s what you say. First, sympathize: let them know you understand that having scarce ownership rights to a ubiquitous resource just doesn’t make sense to many people. I get that, you’ll reply. Then, try throwing out a few lines about NFTs in video games. Owning virtual assets does seem to make more sense in the context of virtual spaces, even for the most skeptical of NFT skeptics.
It doesn’t seem all that odd to buy tokenized weapons for video game characters, does it? And from there, it may not be much of a stretch to imagine why people would invest in virtual plots of land. (Or race virtual horses. Or buy clothing for their avatars to wear in cyberspace. Right?)
Now, the real kicker. Tell them that it’s alright that they haven’t been building their tokenized sneaker empire. But like it or not, they may still be living in the digital realm where NFTs play an increasingly important role – the metaverse.
Christmas: NFTs, the Metaverse, and the Universe
When you hear the word metaverse, you may think of a literal virtual world that exists entirely separately from our own. But it’s been said that the metaverse isn’t any specific place, physical or virtual. Rather, it’s the point at which life is lived more virtually than not. So as more people work, play, socialize, and fall in love online, we are – for all intents and purposes – living in the metaverse already.
But still, even if someone works remotely, spends all their spare time playing online games, and has a long-distance relationship, NFTs may not seem to serve much of a practical purpose. Interesting investments, sure; a way to support artists – why not? But ultimately, NFTs really only “exist” in niche online spaces. Usually, these are their home marketplaces, and maybe a few online games or galleries.
This is where the conversation might get tricky. NFT technology is new, and in many respects, still finding its feet. But here’s the thing: NFTs aren’t just a novelty. Non-fungible token tech has revolutionized the ways that people can create, own, and exchange things in Web3. NFTs are the key to building and retaining self-sovereign value in the digital world. They are the building blocks of the virtual economy. They are essential to connecting the real world with the virtual one.
So now, we can talk about the future of NFTs. Greater flexibility is needed to bridge the gap between what’s “real” and what’s not. So what’s the answer? Augmented reality (AR).
Together, AR and NFTs Bridge the Metaverse and the Physical World
Right now, owning a tokenized avatar or art piece is a limited experience. They can generally only be viewed or displayed in 2D, usually only on the platform where they’re hosted. Some NFT creators have sought to fix this by gifting physical objects to buyers – prints, sculptures, or even pieces of hair.
But in a way, this practice sends the message that NFTs exist in a distant, abstract corner of the universe, and that entirely separate physical representations are what really give meaning to their ownership.
AR, by contrast, presents a “both/and” approach. The experience of owning NFTs can extend beyond the digital world into the physical one. Similarly, the experience of owning physical objects can extend into the metaverse. Imagine hanging a virtual NFT on a physical wall in your home (or any other space, for that matter.) Visualize wearing NFT-enabled physical clothing virtually enhanced with AR tools. Think about physical newspapers, magazine covers, paintings, and all manner of still images brought to life – each connected to a token that grants it AR enhancement rights.
Digital gifts – just do it
NFTs can help us define how the experience of our physical world and possessions manifests in the metaverse, and vice versa. As a result, the experience of what we own and create – and who we are – is more holistic and integrated. AR is the way to bring NFTs into the future, and to align the experience of who we are online with our real-world selves. And it won’t just be practical. It’s going to be cool.
So tell your family that NFTs are going to play an important role in the future of both online and offline life. And maybe – just maybe – they’ll think that the idea of owning digital images isn’t so crazy after all.
What do you think of getting digital gifts for Christmas? Tell us here.