IT Visionaries
IT Visionaries
Sep 30, 2021
The Importance of Having Fun Technology with Dieter Shirley, Co-creator of CryptoKitties and CTO and Lead Architect of Dapper Labs
Play • 53 min

A lot of times people look at someone who changes the world and think that person must have known exactly what they were doing right from the very beginning. A lot of times, people are dead wrong. Creating comes from a place of not knowing exactly what comes next, and being willing to try to make something new anyway. Sure, trying something new takes courage; but, it’s more about being willing to try things and not be concerned with the outcome. Also, in reality, individuals don’t change culture — people join forces to do that. If a company wants to change the world, then they need to develop a culture that promotes creativity. Dieter Shirley, the Co-creator of CryptoKitties and the CTO and Lead Architect of Dapper Labs, explains the creative process he has learned to employ.

“We would try all sorts of crazy stuff. Of course, most of it didn’t go anywhere. But that was how we learned. Even if CryptoKitties hadn’t taken off, we would have learned a ton and been able to try something else.”

Creative people often make objects that other people collect. Creative-types do this because creating new things help them to interact with the materials of the world and then shape them into a certain type of order. Collectors collect because these items help provide meaning to their lives. In this way, both creators and collectors are attempting to create order. Today, these objects can be digital too. CyptoKitties — digital blockchain cats — the latest basketball sneaker, or the hottest painting are now all one in the same. People will queue up for digital collectibles just like they would stand in a line at the sneaker store. They’ll outbid each other for digital memorabilia just like they would for that painting.   

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Dieter talks about all he and his team learned when they created CryptoKittes, the limitations that blockchains such as etherium placed on their ability to scale CryptoKitties or other similar products, and how they've applied that knowledge to NBA Top Shot — which are digital NBA and WNBA collectibles they build on their blockchain, Flow. Enjoy the episode!

Main Takeaways

  • Try Crazy Things: Just create new things. Not knowing where everything is going is okay. The creation process is never wasted time even if a certain project isn’t considered successful. Creating is about learning. Regardless of the outcome, what’s learned can always be applied moving forward.
  • The Power of Fun and Games: Having a spirit of playfulness in the creative process allows new things to be tried. It’s also really important to make technology that’s fun too. If consumers find the tech fun in itself, like a game, for instance, they’ll take the time to interact with the technology.
  • If You Build it, They Will Come: Just build the tech and keep it simple. If you build something, that gives it a chance for consumers to use it. If it’s simple, even better. If it’s fun, that’s the best because people will take the time to actually use it. People don’t need to know everything about a certain technology to use it. They just need to be interested in it and be able to learn just enough to engage with it.
  • If You Need To, Build It Yourself but Better: Sometimes, taking matters into your own hands is the best path forward. CryptoKitties crashed the Ethereum network. Rather than relying on Ethereum or any other blockchain, Dapper Labs built its own blockchain, Flow, that increased efficiency and met their requirements to scale.
  • Something That Never Dies: Digital memorabilia is attractive because it never dies. Collectors collect items to create meaning for their lives. Digital items, that can live forever, can provide comfort to collectors in that they will always exist and be there for them to provide that meaning.
  • Trust Your Team: As a leader, it’s imperative to trust the team. Even if a leader is initially very involved in the creative process of a certain project, over time the team members working on the project every day will likely develop greater expertise. When that happens, the best thing a leader can do is trust the team. This, of course, also opens up the leader to meet other responsibilities, including dreaming up new projects.


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