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Vitalik Buterin Discusses the Potential of Memecoins: Charity and Gamification

Last Updated March 29, 2024 4:21 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated March 29, 2024 4:21 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Vitalik Buterin has highlighted the potential negative impacts of memecoins and is calling for higher quality projects.
  • Charitable applications of memecoins are one of the ways forward according to Vitalik.
  • A focus on gamification could be a huge boost for the overall reputation and future of memecoins.

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin has taken to his blog to discuss the future of memecoins, explaining that they walk a fine line between being completely useless and incredibly impactful beyond speculative trading.

Despite his criticisms, concerns, and contentions with memecoins, Vitalik is at best, aspirational for memecoins and posits the question, could they be anything more than just a meme?

For Better or Worse

Vitalik appears to be disappointed in memecoins, or at least with the current state of them. According to Vitalik , memecoins have an insatiable magnetism to them as their potential to grow in value can be gigantic. Not only this, but they do indeed represent the true spirit of decentralization and crypto for their inclusivity.

Furthermore, as Vitalik highlights, this memecoin rise is markedly different from the memecoin markets of the “2020-21” season. This time around, the current memecoin market is wildly speculative, and new meme tokens seem to bring nothing “particularly new and interesting” to the markets.

Another issue highlighted is the fact that a lot of Solana-based memecoins are openly racist, or at least have extremely controversial names and ticker symbols, seemingly just to gain the attention of degens in search of profits. Vitalik believes this to be a problem, however, he doesn’t believe that memecoins should just disappear.

“One answer to this conundrum is to shake our heads and virtue-signal about how much we are utterly abhorred by and stand against this stupidity,” he writes, noting that it would be the correct thing to do. That said, he asks a rather interesting question, writing :

“But at the same time, we can also ask another question: if people value having fun, and financialized games seem to at least sometimes provide that, then could there be a more positive-sum version of this whole concept?”

Charitable Applications

Firstly, Vitalik argues that to him, the more interesting coins that he has seen are ones “dedicated to some kind of charity”.

He highlights tokens such as GiveWell Inu that, prior to shutting down, donated to the GiveWell charity, he also notes “Fable of the Dragon Tyrant”, a blockchain gaming project  that also funds anti-aging research and projects.

He notes other positive examples such as Dogelon Mars (ELON), a memecoin that gifted him half of its supply, which he then gifted to biomedical charity, the Methuselah Foundation, bridging a meaningful relationship between the Dogelon Mars and the charity, “retroactively converting $ELON into a charity coin,” he writes.

Gamification

Vitalik posits that perhaps the way forward is to give memecoins a value proposition beyond speculative trading, and instead asks if gamification is the way.

He speculates that people participate in memecoins because of their potential value, their more democratic feel, and the simple fact that they are fun. So, what if memecoins had “meaningful and fun games” attached to them?

Well, Vitalik notes his experience of traveling through Southeast Asian countries and hearing stories of how families broke out of poverty by playing Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn game on the blockchain.

Of course, making a genuinely good game is hard to do, but these efforts can not only provide lower-income players economically better off but also be combined with ‘charity coins’ or interactions that go on to do something for communities beyond the tokens’ creators and traders.

A Nudge in the Right Direction

Vitalik’s thoughts on memecoins appear to have resonated with the community, with Pepecoin and others seemingly supporting this message, with notable thanks from Dogelon Mars.

Overall, Vitalik wants to see higher quality fun projects enter the space, especially those that contribute in a positive way to the community “and the world around them,” he adds:

“At the least, more good memecoins than bad ones, ideally those that support public goods instead of just enriching insiders and creators.”

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