Dec 16, 2021 • 10M

Can NFTs Fix The Magic Industry?

$13,000 For A Digital Playing Card?!

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Bicycle Playing Cards NFT
Bicycle Cards NFT

Earlier this year, I spent a silly amount of money on a pixelated image of an avatar that looked a little bit like myself. What followed were six incredibly stressful days. I remember sitting in the park one day and just staring down at the pixels on my phone. It drove me a little insane. I’d have conversations with the tiny avatar of myself…

“I know you’re worth $1,700 little pixelated Rory, and you know you’re worth $1,700 little pixelated Rory, but what if no one else knows you’re worth $1,700 stupid pixelated Rory.”

Oh, the silly amount of money I spent on a pixelated image of an avatar that looked a little bit like myself if you squinted was $1,700. I’d done my research. I’d taken my time. I saw this as an investment. I bought my first Bitcoin back in 2017. I know how to do this shit. I knew if I just held onto this stupid fucking jpeg, I’d be making the big bucks in just a few months. That’s what I told myself, but really, I had spent $1,700 to drive myself fucking insane.

Much like God, on the seventh day, I chose to rest and sold the NFT for $2,800. I didn’t feel good about the $1,100 profits. I knew it would keep rising. As I write this post, I just checked on pixelated Rory’s current value — it’s now worth a crazy $8,400. Please remind me never to check its value ever again.

I suppose the takeaway from this story is that even if I think I fully understand and believe in NFT’s, it doesn’t mean I trust in them enough not to let them drive me mad.

Welcome to the wonderful world of non-fungible-tokens.

What the fuck is an NFT?

NFTs may eclipse physical art

That’s right; this week’s post contains multiple f-words (deservedly so). Let’s start with the basics and wrap our heads around what exactly an NFT is before we explore how they may or may not fix the magic industry. We’ll also take a look at Bicycle Playing Cards’ recent money grab, I mean business venture, as they launch their first NFT’s this week.

Strap in because here we fucking go.

NFT stands for non-fungible-token. Not the best of names, but bear with me. An NFT is a digital token that exists on the blockchain to record proof of ownership for the person holding it. Each token is entirely unique and can never be replicated or replaced.

NFTs can transform digital works of art and other collectables into one-of-a-kind, verifiable assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain. NFTs let you create and trade almost anything as an identifiable collectable item. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, sold his first tweet for $2.9 million, a video clip of a LeBron James slam dunk sold for over $200,000, and a decade-old "Nyan Cat" GIF went for $600,000.

Some people will counter the idea of an NFT with, well, can’t I just take a screenshot of the NFT and then technically own it too? Well, no, not quite. I could take a screenshot of the Mona Lisa, and I certainly wouldn’t become its billionaire owner.

Other people will counter and say, well, just because you own the NFT doesn’t mean you own the copyright. Anyone could print and sell t-shirts of your NFT, for example. And these people would actually be absolutely right.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority had this to say in its April 2021 guidance on advertising cryptocurrencies:

"It is important to remember that the NFT is not the piece of art or image itself, but a method of tracking ownership. If somebody sells you an NFT for a digital file, that does not stop them sending copies of that file to other people. The use of NFTs for copyright has also not been established and therefore, owning an NFT does not mean that you own the copyright."

OK — suspend any disbelief or confusion and run with me for a moment. Forget about how NFTs work and just trust that they provide a way to prove ownership of a collectable token. Are you suspending disbelief? Good. Now, let me explain two aspects of NFTs that excite me as they apply to the magic industry.

As always, if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to add after reading this post, do leave a comment. I set aside time to reply to everyone.

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A Blockchain Ledger.

Blockchain Ledger

Magic has quite a steep history of theft, plagiarism and piracy. I actually believe piracy is quite good for magic for the most part. I’ll probably write about that in the future. But the concept of a ledger is quite fascinating when you think about magic.

Imagine if every trick you purchased arrived with an NFT token, verifying not only that you are an actual owner of the trick but also that you bought it from a genuine owner or its creator. Woah, could a ledger end piracy, fix plagiarism and reduce theft in the magic industry. Pirate sites would be unable to provide the NFT token with their pirate products.

What if you see someone performing a trick you are unsure they own, you could easily look it up on the ledger? Would this deter annoying magicians from publicly performing tricks they didn’t buy?

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