February 29, 2024
Crypto

Day 6 of ‘Crypto: The Game’ Brutally Exposes the Problem of Trust in a Digital World


Posted February 6, 2024 at 4:24 pm EST.

Day Six of “Crypto: The Game” was brutal, and if I have to admit it, brilliant, too.

The 10-day game is more than halfway to its conclusion as the remaining 179 of us have participated in eliminating a total of 231 people since the start of the game on Wednesday. The stakes are high: the last person standing will win 90% of the 41 ETH pot — about $87,000 at Tuesday’s price — with the other 10% being retained by the game’s organizers.

On Monday, many players were surprised to find ourselves reassigned to new tribes. Then the day’s task was for each tribe to eliminate eight players. For the first time, there was no immunity challenge, so every single one of the players left had to figure out how to survive when a group of strangers thrown together immediately wants to eliminate you.

I was struck by how “Crypto: The Game” exposed the internet for what it is: an ever-evolving digital landscape defined by its paradoxical nature of distrust and collaboration, where people have to navigate virtual, murky waters in the absence of the in-person interactions that give humans clues about who to trust and who to avoid.  

It’s the fundamental question for crypto itself: How do you navigate a transaction without having trust in any of the other parties in the transaction?

Lessons from “Survivor” 

After the shuffling of tribe assignments, I am now in the White Tribe. 

To become acquainted with members of this new tribe, I joined a Telegram group chat and found a Google spreadsheet there where members inputed their Twitter, Telegram and a fun, ice-breaking fact about ourself that served almost as a proof-of-active status, among other things.

While initially fun, the spreadsheet soon created fear, uncertainty and doubt, the three deadly words any person in any project wants to avoid, typically. 

An anonymous person or group had added another tab on the spreadsheet with a new column header, “Target.” Ten players of about 20 in the White Tribe were name-checked, suggesting we were targets for the elimination voting to begin in a few hours. 

The meaning of target is: “Round object to be aimed at in shooting,” recorded by 1757, originally in archery, “perhaps suggested by the shape and the concentric circles in both,” according to Etymonline

I shook and did not want to believe what my eyes were showing me. I found myself grappling with heightened levels of tension and jitters as if an out-of-water fish was flopping underneath my stomach, slowly suffocating from the lack of air.

And yet, I also felt single-minded in pursuit of my goal to survive to fight another day.

The “Survivor” TV series taught me that a person can actively choose to be an agent in one’s (un)intentional circumstances. Someone had informed me I was on the spreadsheet as a target and another player, perhaps, was targeting me. It occurred to me that people deliberately chose for me to see the “X” in my target column. In a similar way I needed to be deliberate about getting that target moved off of me. 

I could chat with people about what they thought and how we could move forward. I messaged people individually on Telegram to share what was running through my mind, aware that what was said might be shared with others. I also asked in the group chat to address the elephant in the room, the spreadsheet showing a target on some tribe members mere hours before the start of the voting period.

One member of the White Tribe said, “Our spreadsheet got leaked,” while another thought it was possible that the target column “could be a diversion from another tribe.” 

While I was theorizing what happened, I reminded myself of the importance of assuming positive intent. I worked from the assumption that people are good, fair and honest, because I prefer to live in that world over the one where people are bad, unfair and dishonest. 

Whoever created the target column remains a mystery. 

This target talk was all a distraction from the real task of the day: How to eliminate eight people. Figuring out a mechanism to eliminate people from a group that was created several hours prior was difficult. While knowing some in my new group, I was a stranger to the far majority of the tribe.

The challenge for me was to be immune without the chance to earn immunity. One user on Farcaster compared the game’s creator Dylan Abruscato to Batman’s nemesis, The Joker. 

We had to decide who to kick out without being kicked out ourselves in the process. My primitive instinct took over. I had to survive to the next round and make tomorrow become exactly what it is, a future.

The White Tribe had preliminary discussions about whether to abstain from elimination voting. One person said they didn’t trust in a no-vote — which is effectively disobeying the rules — at just halfway through the game. Another expressed concerns about the potential for rogue votes if the tribe attempts to pull off a unanimous no-vote. 

See? Two people expressed mistrust, so we all chose the path to perpetuate the least trust, eliminating people from our tribe just because the arbitrary rules say so. 

Just as on the first day’s elimination voting, the reasons why we eliminated people were pretty random. The easiest one was to target anyone who was away from their keyboard during the voting period. Because that was their bad.

The next one was that someone posed a question in a Telegram chat, and we looked at each other’s answers. “What did crypto bring into your life?” was the question.

The White Tribe voted eight people off, exactly as ordered, including players who have demonstrated skills of collaboration, a key element for survival in groups, historically. 

After we finished our elimination we learned that the Gold Tribe successfully executed a no-vote. A member of the tribe posted to Farcaster a YouTube video showing a clip of the movie “War Games” where the mega computer said aloud that nuclear war is a “strange game,” concluding that “the only winning move is not to play.” 

The Gold Tribe is still in the game and has my admiration!

The Yellow and Blue Tribes voted off precisely one person each. The one person on the Yellow Tribe who was eliminated received 23 votes, while the person eliminated on the Blue Tribe received 19 votes, showing a high degree of agreement within each tribe.

Rest In Peace

When the smoke cleared on Monday evening, a DeFi developer, a live-streamer and a technology optimist were three of the 60 players who didn’t survive the cut.

An earlier eliminated player, Li Jin, co-founder of venture firm Variant, said, “The feeling of weight being lifted off my shoulders immediately upon being eliminated from @cryptothegame_ 😮‍💨”. Bradley Freeman of Lens Protocol shared, “Felt the full spectrum of emotions, and had a LOT of fun.”

Some of those remaining have paid their respects, wishing peace to those who suffered an in-game death. This isn’t as touching as it may sound, because in another nasty twist, the people voted off will be part of the selection process for crowning the winner.

“Reminder: if you’ve been eliminated, you’re now a member of the jury. You will vote FOR the winner of S1 on Friday,” wrote the game’s organizers on X. 

Of Course, There’s a Meme Coin 

On Tuesday, a contestant who was eliminated and has roughly 40,000 followers on X posted, “People keep asking why there isn’t a $CryptoTheGame memecoin so I made one,” SHL0MS shared

$CryptoTheGame is an ERC-20 token deployed on Base, the layer 2 network strongly associated with centralized exchange Coinbase. For every trade, the meme-coin creator receives a 1% fee in ETH. Per blockchain analytics platform Dextools, the token has a market cap of $26,220 and liquidity of $3,250. 

The goal of the challenge is to move your birdie forward, which flaps higher with each mouse click. A player’s score increases when the bird moves past each green plumbing tube. (Crypto: The Game)

Onward!

We are now playing Flappy Bird, the Day Seven immunity challenge that went live Tuesday afternoon. 



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