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When people think of blockchain technology, certain things come to mind. They think of buying Bitcoin, trading digital currency, cryptocurrency influencers, and maybe creating decentralized apps.
Decentralized apps, also known as dapps, are adding a new layer of interest in the cryptoworld. They are most often built using code based on cryptocurrency like Ethereum—but are otherwise overall similar to what you'd see on Google Play.
Just like regular apps on the marketplace, dapps run the gamut from freelancing job apps to gaming apps to specialty chat clients. Not many dapps have been too successful in terms of getting interest from the mainstream, but one definitely has been blowing up.
If you were thinking that I was talking about Cryptokitties, you're right. This dapp proves that cryptocurrency might just be a gamer's best friend by becoming one of the most notorious dapps ever made.
The concept of Cryptokitties reflects internet culture purrfectly.
Anyone who has been a longtime denizen of the net knows that geeks love cats—like, really love them. As the name suggests, players who decide to enjoy this dapp every crypto fan should know about get to indulge in their internet cat love in a brand new way.
This dapp is all about raising and caring for breedable, customizable cyber kittens. It's also one of the very first games to be built on the blockchain. Not only is it Ethereum-based, it's a record breaker in its own right.
A good way to explain the game to people is to liken it to Pokémon, minus the battling.
The entire purpose of the game is to breed cool kittens, trade them, and sell them. Cryptokittens that are limited edition or rare are seen as more valuable, while common kittens are more sold for a lesser amount.
Breeders get to breed male and female cats together to create newer, custom kittens. The idea is that you should try to make your own perfect pet.
This game is pay-to-play.
To buy a cat, you will need to use Ethereum—that's right, real cryptocurrency. It's considered to be part of the "gas price" of keeping the network up, and it's meant to pay off miners who offer proof-of-work.
That said, it's users who set the prices for the kitties in the game. They also come at all prices, so if haven't utilized the ultimate guide to mining Ethereum, you can still play.
There are four different types of Cryptokitties to choose from.
You can choose from Normal Cats, Fancy Cats, Special Edition Cats, and if you're lucky, can get one of the very few Exclusive Cats that are hand-created by the owners of the game. (That said, Special Edition Cats are not an official "type.")
The rarer the cat, the more you can charge for kittens that you breed and sell. The more common the cat, the less you can charge. Since you can actually make money in the game, there's a lot of competition for Exclusive Cats.
Founder cats and low ID number cats are considered to be ultra-pricey.
If you want to strike it rich, the best way to play Cryptokitties is to search out cats that are Gen 0 or have a very low ID number. Only 50,000 Gen 0 cats can live at any given point—and that isn't changing anytime soon.
Low ID numbers are also seen as an important buying point, and can greatly impact your cat's value.
Each cat is born with different genes.
Breeding your own kittens is a really interesting experience in the game because it's partially based on actual genetic concepts. Every cat in the game comes with 256-bit genes that determine the traits of future kittens.
The genes will determine what your cat's eyes, mouth, fur, and artwork will look like. It also will determine how long you have to wait before your cryptocat can breed again.
Some cats are also born with Purrstige traits, which are special attributes that can only be bred for a limited amount of time. These are incredibly valuable in the market.
The majority of the game is based on Mendelian genetics, which means you get to do Punnet squares to figure out what traits your cat will have. Cats can have both dominant and recessive genes, too!
You can breed Fancy Cats by pairing cats that have the right traits together.
Fancy Cats are special cats that can only be bred by combining the right cat traits for a limited amount of time. Once a set number of Fancy Cats are created, no more can be made. You'll just get a very cute Normal Cat after the limit is reached.
As you can imagine, they are heavily sought after. Some even consider them to be valuable digital art, as well as assets—not unlike cryptocurrency coins themselves.
Your cats can also carry genes that mutate—just like people!
Staying true to Mendelian genetics, the programmers behind Cryptokitties started to make it possible for cats to mutate. In the game, mutations allow cats to develop unique traits they can pass on to their offspring.
Mutations are considered to be a bonus, which is why people maximize them. Thankfully, there's also a way to do that. Noting that purebred dogs and cats are prone to mutations in real life, developers decided to make their cryptocats have a higher chance of mutation based on being purebred.
To make things easier on breeders, you can actually look at your cat's breeding charts and learn about their genomes. A purebred kitty will have all four slots of a specific trait carry the same gene.
Purebred cats have a 25 percent higher chance of mutating. So, they're pretty popular.
The amount of money that people have made from this dapp is insane.
Cryptokitties is a game that really, truly took off. In fact, it wouldn't be a lie to say that many mainstream apps and some of the other experimental Ethereum-based apps would wish they had the kind of success that this game has managed to attain.
At one point, the entire Ethereum network had slowed down due to the sheer number of people playing on this dapp. The amount people pay for high end cyber cats is also astonishingly high; one even splurged a total of $140,000 for his pet!
Around 3.2 million trades have happened via the game's smart contracts by October 2018. Approximately one million cats are still floating around the market, being cared for by their adoring fans.
Overall, this dapp is all about teaching people to learn about genetics while trading cryptocurrency and cats.
Cryptokitties is absolutely amazing—and not just because it's lucrative. The lessons it teaches about genetics are great for kids who want to learn about STEM, or just enjoy some family-friendly blockchain fun.
If this is the future of cryptocurrency and gaming, it's safe to say that dapps like this one have a very, very bright future.