Gary Lachance has a knack for getting people to help him out. One of the co-inventors of the Decentralized Dance Party (DDP) – a roving celebration powered by a radio transmitter, hundreds of boom boxes and thousands of dancers – he never struggled to find people willing to chip in for gas money or batteries to keep the radios going. DDP has been a money-losing operation since it kicked off in 2009. But Lachance isn’t fazed for his next throwdown.
On Saturday, he’s launching a blockchain-based game that rewards players with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and dogecoin. The beta release of Million Doge Disco combines elements of augmented reality (AR) games, like Pokemon Go, and the DDP, letting people encounter and dance with digital characters called “Dogeagotchi” in the real world that also live on a blockchain as an NFT.
To get this party started, Lachance is donating more than 1 million DOGE (worth about $260,000) to seed in-game giveaways and help fund development – though much of the work was volunteered. “That’s like the majority of my doge; I will not be a millionaire once I give that away,” Lachance said. (Asked for evidence, he took off his sunglasses and said you can’t “prove how much crypto you don’t have.”)
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Dogecoin has had a fetching year. The cryptocurrency created in 2013 to be “as ridiculous as possible” has chased bitcoin to become one of the most recognizable and noteworthy assets in the sector with a $32 billion market cap and devoted fanbase. Lachance was one of Dogecoin’s early supporters, drawn by the community’s friendly and generous disposition. “We’re like, finally there’s like a funny, silly version of Bitcoin that’s good,” he said.
Although created as a joke, doge found legitimate utility as an internet-native currency. An ever-increasing token supply encouraged spending and a giving economy sprouted up. Redditors randomly gave doge to others. Holders famously paid the Jamaican bobsled team’s way to the Olympics. Lachance, who organized a “CampDoge” at the Burning Man festival and a meetup in Vancouver, British Columbia, gave out thousands of shiba inu stickers (and dogecoins) to strangers.
That sort of generosity and light-heartedness isn’t as common now in crypto as it used to be. Part of Lachance’s motivation for Doge Disco is to “reinvigorate the culture of gifting.” He’s hoping that players may be inspired to help fund the giveaways once his stash runs out. Another ambition is to build a “party layer” above reality, “allowing anyone, anywhere to instantly step into a parallel dimension alive with sound, light and positive vibes,” according to the project’s website. Players may be graced with a daily dose of “dogely wisdom.”
It might sound like Lachance is living in an alternative plain beyond the metaverse, but the project is real enough. It’s built on the blockchain and AR development platform BLOCKv with tie-ins to Ethereum layer 2 Polygon and the Dogecoin blockchain. The in-game doge are tokenized, though players will receive real coins from a custodial wallet “with just a click,” Lachance said. Kyle Kemper, the half-brother off Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is a co-founder. More than 1,000 people have signed up for the wait list, Lachance said. A Zoom party will kick it all off on Saturday, which Lachance hopes will spill into the streets.
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“We’re just kind of figuring it out as we go along,” Lachance said, expounding some “dogely wisdom.” He said he had planned to die a doge millionaire and have his paper wallet buried with him. But after the massive run-up and run-down in the cryptocurrency’s price, he realized the opportunity to spread joy. “There’s a chance all the money could just disappear. But this is the best possible thing I could ever think to do with this: just distributing it around the globe.”
“Everything comes back around eventually,” he said.