Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing around with a digital asset collecting game called Rare Pepe. My partner Andy tipped me off to it a while back and it took me a while to wade into it.
Rare Pepe is based on an internet meme called Pepe The Frog that has been around since 2005 and became popular on 4chan.
Rarepepes are digital trading cards that are traded as counterparty (XCP) assets on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Andy and I were talking about this yesterday on Twitter and my friend Jason asked what we were “nerding out” over.
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) May 13, 2017
I responded that rarepepes are “about the coolest thing ever” which may be a bit of an overstatement but isn’t that what Twitter is for?
The truth is rarepepes are a bit complicated to buy and collect. First you need a Rare Pepe wallet which you can get here. Then you need to transfer in some Bitcoin from somewhere like Coinbase. Then you need to buy some Pepe Cash (yet another crypto asset) which you can buy here, but only after transferring in some more Bitcoin. Then you transfer the Pepe Cash to your Rare Pepe wallet and then you can buy the digital trading cards. But you need to spend BTC to send these cards around because that is what powers the Counterparty system. You can also publish your Rare Pepe wallet address on Twitter and maybe someone will send you some. I did that yesterday and it worked.
Here are some of my cards:
So why do I think this is interesting?
Well for one, it shows the utility of a blockchain in action. You can buy, sell, hold, and transfer digital assets and they have value and are traded for other digital assets (like BTC) in an online global marketplace. Anyone can make one of these cards and if they are determined to be “rare” they become digital assets with value attached to them.
It also shows how a game can be built on a blockchain with virtual goods and characters and more.
And it shows how clunky this stuff is for the average person to use. Just playing around with this over the last few days showcases to me all of the technical challenges that blockchain technology still has to overcome before it can become mainstream. I would like to think that if this sort of game were built on Ethereum instead of Counterparty/Bitcoin, and if it ran inside something like the Token messenger that I blogged about a few weeks ago, it might be a lot simpler and easier for the average user to access. So there is real progress happening on this front right now.
Rare Pepe itself has a fair bit of baggage. It’s a meme popularized by the alt-right and attached to a lot of ideas that I personally find difficult to take.
But putting all of that aside, I find it encouraging that people are building things that are comprehensible to the average person on public blockchains. Rare Pepe may not be the killer app that public blockchains are waiting for, but something like it may well be.
And, of course, you can speculate on/invest in this, as my partner Andy showed me yesterday:
— Andy Weissman (@aweissman) May 13, 2017