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WWW: Web3 Wonders Wow at DigitX

The De La Salle Interactive Entertainment, Gaming, Innovation, and Talent Expo (DigitX) opened its digital doors from October 3 to 9, hosting seminars about the future of the internet while showcasing student project exhibits on the De La Salle University (DLSU) campus in the virtual platform Decentraland. The event was held via Zoom to celebrate the completion of capstone projects by students from the pioneer batch of DLSU’s Bachelor of Science in Interactive Entertainment, a four-year undergraduate program in the development of games and digital assets. 

The University, in collaboration with prominent cryptocurrency companies YGG Alerts and PDAX, invited prominent speakers in the field of Web3 to talk about how its technologies change the conduct of commerce and game development. YGG Alerts provides news and updates about cryptocurrency, NFTs, and Web3, while PDAX is a Philippine-grown cryptocurrency exchange licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Rafael Cabredo, board member of the Game Development Association of the Philippines and dean of DLSU’s College of Computer Science, opened the event not just for students but for the country as a whole. “It’s an exciting period for everyone as we bring the Philippines forward by empowering our creative industry,” Cabredo stated.

Fundamentals first

Kickstarting the three-day seminar were Jiro Reyes, founder of the crypto-education platform Bitskwela; James Afante, founder and CEO of Afante Group of Companies; Atoza, founder of Asiaverse; and Patrick Lao, the head of metaverse arm of PDAX.

Reyes stressed the need for crypto literacy in the Philippines, attributing it to the billions of dollars lost globally in crypto-related scams to a lack of fundamental knowledge in the subject. He states that the freedom provided by cryptocurrencies requires a higher level of responsibility and education—this is what Bitskwela aims to provide Filipinos through free courses and workshops.

Afante spoke next about Web3 as the next step for the internet, which began with Web 1.0, where users could only read content online; it continued with Web 2.0, which allowed users to post their own content and communicate, as in social media. Web 3.0, or Web3, aims to counter the concentration of most online content in the hands of companies, hence the crypto industry’s emphasis on decentralization. 

Atoza then demonstrated building on Decentraland, an online space containing a marketplace to buy digital items, such as clothing and land, with which users can create 3D landscapes that can be explored by other users. 

To cap off the first day of seminars, Lao explained that a metaverse, such as Decentraland, is “any digital experience that allows for ownership rights on the internet, facilitated by NFTs.” He further explains that NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are “any digital object that is unique and limited” and, thus, cannot be forged—a protection afforded by blockchain technology. He compares NFTs to cards in trading card games: they are only usable under specific rules but they are still owned by the individual.

Potential in development

The speakers for the second day of seminars were James Afante, who also spoke on day one; Dominic Go, co-founder and CEO of Adamant Intelligent Solutions Inc. and Adamant Global; Ismael Jerusalem, founder and CEO of Ownly, an extended reality technology solutions company; Anna Margarita Amat, head of NFT curation at PDAX and creative director of Asiaverse; and Luis Buenaventura, country manager of YGG Alerts Pilipinas. 

Afante returned to speak about play-to-earn, a genre of online games that “lets players earn rewards with real-world value by completing tasks, battling other players, and progressing through various game levels.” He stressed the need to continue game development guided by Web3’s principles as the “gamification” that Web3 needs to attract more users who will innovate the industry.

Go, in his talk about play-to-earn game development, stated that the rewards in these games come in the form of in-game NFTs like cryptocurrency, virtual land, skins, and weapons. Beside gameplay and rewards, he stressed the importance of economic sustainability and security in the development of play-to-earn games.

Jerusalem elaborated upon NFTs, stating that the blockchain technology that powers NFT ownership creates a list of transactions per item that are viewable to all users—allowing anyone to validate the ownership of an NFT. 

While presenting a tour of Decentraland, Amat explained that Asiaverse is a metaverse community of creators throughout Asia who were tapped to contribute a variety of perspectives for visitors to experience. Seminar participants were toured through digital locations such as a hotel, a medical school, and an auction house.

Buenaventura cited macroeconomic conditions, inaccessibility of software, and the danger of scams as hurdles faced by Filipinos in adopting Web3 technology. In contrast, he believes that the comparatively high English proficiency of Filipinos in Asia presents a unique opportunity for the rapid adoption of innovations from the West. “You don’t want ten years to solve it. What you want is to get involved now and then build the future you want to see,” he said.

Facing the future

For the last day of talks, the speakers were Van Dominguez, head of public relations of NFT Filipinas; Dominic Go, a returning speaker from day two; and Edward Solicito, Global Head of Marketing of the Decode Coin Project.

Domingues discussed female participation in the crypto industry. Citing a 2020 survey, she highlights that despite a 160-percent increase in women in the field since 2018, the female participation rate was only 20 percent. “Diversity of perspectives is undeniable in shaping this technology and community,” she said, stressing the value of more women in the industry.

Go spoke about Metanetwork Quests and community building, proposing that although disillusionment in the market has discouraged investors from supporting crypto-related projects, establishing a community surrounding a project creates trust between users and developers. By allowing users of a community to contribute to the social score of projects, as his company does in Metanetwork Quests, projects can build trustworthiness outside of their own communities as well. 

Solicito noted the role of traditional financial service companies in the transition to Web3. He explains that financial service is the work of companies that provide an intermediary between consumers and another good or service; this includes real estate, banking, insurance, and e-payments. 

Solicito then expressed the need for traditional businesses in the financial service industry to take the lead in adapting to Web3 since such businesses have the trustworthiness that Web3 needs to attract more users. He also encouraged listeners to make the leap of becoming entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in Web3 as well. “If you have an idea that you know can change the world, you have the responsibility to make sure that idea comes to fruition. Give your ideas a chance,” Solicito said. 

Progress and possibilities

The last day of seminars closed with capstone project presentations by students of DLSU’s Bachelor of Science in Interactive Entertainment. The projects were Hey Hey! Are You Okay?, a game that aims to teach the youth about basic first aid procedures; Endemika, a photography game about endangered animals in the Philippines; Drink or Dry, a game about bartending and cocktail mixing; Ingat, a game intended to teach users how to use the Philippine public transportation system safely; Operation S.Y.B.E.R, a platformer game about integer operations; Eureka, a deck-building game about chemistry; and an unnamed application for procedurally generating Philippine cities using real-world network data. 

In his closing remarks, Lao celebrated the event as a milestone in the industry, not just in its focus on emerging Web3 technologies but also as a venue for the congregation of innovators and users. “Development, learning, progress…it always comes from the meeting of minds,” Lao said. This expo, the first of its kind, is expected to be held again in the following years to celebrate student creativity and developing technology as the two halves of digital innovation in the country.

By The LaSallian

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