Digiphysical Goods: Bringing Programmable Utility to Physical Products


Crypto has created a new field of interaction design for consumer experiences.

To date, attempts to represent physical goods onchain have been spearheaded by cryptonative brands for high-end fashion items for authenticity and provenance. Meanwhile, the vast majority of onchain actions such as NFT minting, attesting, trading, and equipping remain limited to digital contexts.

We see a big potential for onchain interactions to be brought to physical environments through digiphysical consumer goods, and believe that digiphysical infrastructure will soon bring programmable utility to any physical product.

Cryptonative digiphysicals are goods that exist in physical form, and maintain a cryptographic link to its digital (onchain) record via NFC technology. This record can be in the form of an NFT, a registry entry, or an onchain identity with signing capabilities.

Chip technology coupled with onchain programmability gives wallet-like abilities (e.g. token-gated access, signing, and asset ownership) to any physical object, unlocking end consumer experiences that were not previously possible.

We are excited about this next generation of digiphysicals because they:

  • Bring onchain interactions to physical environments. Embedded scannable hardware allows consumers to verifiably prove their proximity to an object or presence in a physical space. This proof can arbitrarily unlock location-sensitive utility such as live mints, or serve as a record of participation that can qualify the holder for future rewards.
  • Give agency and reputation to any consumer product. Chips with signature-generation capabilities let any physical good build its own onchain history and accrue value as its owners engage with brands and communities IRL. Because an item’s onchain record is decoupled from the owner, the item can be sold with its history intact and priced accordingly.
  • Create a new distribution channel for issuers. Brands, communities, and creators can give ongoing, dynamic utility to their products and spaces. IRL interactions become a metric used to extend differentiated rewards to the most engaged members, who are in turn incentivized to engage more with the community.
  • Unlock fullstack utility for consumers. Owners of digiphysical products can derive value from the good both in the physical (wearing the item) and digital (flex ownership, early access rights, exclusive content) realm.

What did digiphysical products look like in the past?

The first digiphysicals existed prior to crypto. We can think of them as physical products that came “bundled” with its digital form. Think vinyl records that come with digital download codes, or physical books sold with its pdf format. While these bundled products allow buyers to consume the content in multiple ways, the digital and physical counterparts have no strict association with one another and are treated as add-ons, which often go unutilized.

Within crypto, early experiments include selling unchipped “Digital Twin” products through onchain mechanics like burn-to-redeem. Here, the owner has to burn/replace the NFT in order to claim a physical product, or claim an NFT add-on after making a physical purchase. Like bundles, early “digital twin” products treat each counterpart as a secondary offering as opposed to product components that are deeply integral to one another.

While both forms of physical-digital bundling offer incremental benefits to the consumer, there is only a loose coupling between the physical and digital product. Each good can theoretically be sold separately without losing its own intrinsic value or utility.

Embedded chips, coupled with onchain programmability, allow us to achieve tight coupling between a physical object and its onchain record and property rights. This means that the physical and digital are no-longer distinct products, but two sides of the same coin. The physical object is a means for the holder to read or write to its onchain record or exercise the rights that come with it through IRL interactions.

Digiphysicals outside and within web3.

The prevailing mental model for digiphysical goods are IRL fashion items with an NFT counterpart wearable in virtual worlds. While this is one use case, it only scratches the surface of the design space that has opened up.

A better analogy would be a (physical) credit card and the (digital) financial identity, purchasing power, and access rights it grants. The credit card is a means for the holder to make purchases in the physical world, while the bank holds a digital record of card usage and any perks that come with it. The card issuer secures partnerships with vendors to give cardholders ongoing utility, such as airport lounge access and hotel discounts.

The digital record is not necessarily a “mirror” of the physical card, but an important part of its function as third parties read from and update its record through IRL interactions.

Another example is a festival wristband that attendees can use to enter the venue, pay vendors, and claim rewards. The wristband itself makes for a convenient method to pay, but its digital record with access rights and spendable balance is inherently a part of what makes it useful.

Cryptonative Digiphysicals: A physical good cryptographically linked to an onchain record

Cryptonative digiphysicals bring this programmable interactivity to any consumer product to be used in a variety of financial, social, and entertainment use cases. They can be objects that are carried or worn on-person (e.g. clothing items, POAP cards) or tied to a stationary object (e.g. artwork in a gallery, collectables), scanned to pull up its ownership history, proof-of-authenticity, historical interactions, and associated utility. Its onchain record makes the interactivity composable — anybody can distribute rewards and grant rights to any the goods without gated API access.

What use cases do cryptonative digiphysicals enable?

While the popularized notion of the metaverse is a Ready Player One-like VR environment where humans and objects have “digital twins” operating separately in immersive virtual worlds, we believe that it will look more like physical objects and spaces having an onchain record and fullstack utility across physical and digital environments.

Creator Monetisation & Fan Engagement

  • Extended Merch Interactivity. Creators can now turn any physical merch into loyalty cards with post-purchase utility. Merch becomes a direct channel to fans and fans to each other, allowing creators to build a deeper relationship with their fans and within the fan base itself. The experience that comes with the merch is programmable so the interactivity is ongoing.
  • Fan Segmentation. Today, there is a large information gap for artists about their fanbase as ticketing and merch sales are conducted through third parties who control how much data they share with the artist. By distributing POAPs at events and building a record of IRL interactions like taps and scans, creators get a granular view of who their most engaged fans are.
  • Targeted Rewards. Using chipped merch and scannable kiosks at an event, creators are able to reward fans directly. Fans can build their reputation within the community as IRL and digital participation can be recorded onchain. Wearing chipped merch to multiple events can accrue loyalty points to the merch, which can be scanned to unlock access to presales for future shows.

Tokenized Communities

  • Proof of Connection & Social Games. Products designed for individuals to have on their person, such as a piece of clothing or a card, can be a way for communities to connect with other members as they meet each other in person. It also enables new types of games around connecting in person e.g. 9dcc Network Points
  • Social Graphs. “I met” POAP transfer activity creates a bottom-up social graph that can be used to see which events community members are going to, and the most “connected” members. This can serve as a primitive data point to distribute rewards to members who are most active in evangelizing the community at events.
  • Payments & Co-Signing. Because a physical item can now produce cryptographic signatures, it could be used as a signer for a multisig for contactless payments as a DAO member. This could be a membership card, a hoodie, bracelet or anything else.

Decentralized Authentication & Proof-of-Ownership

  • Luxury Goods & Collectables. While traditional authentication systems for luxury goods, art, and high-end collectibles rely on centralized servers, onchain authentication standards using chips enable physical products to self-attest their authenticity even if their issuers go away. Once scanned, there is a transparent record of who manufactured the chip, which brand issued the product, and what rights come with it.
  • Fullstack Flex. Using standards like physical-backed NFTs, brands can tie a physical garment to a digital wearable that owners can take across the physio-virtual stack. The token standard ensures ownership of the NFT and physical items remain tightly coupled, allowing owners to verifiably flex ownership across both digital and physical spaces.
  • Cryptographic Autographs. KrauseHause Metafactory jacket that basketball players can tap and sign digitally.

Digiphysical Interactions

  • XRL Gameplay. On-chain games can add IRL quests by chipping physical products and updating its record as players engage with one another in the real world. Loot LARP was an XRL larp experience at NFT NYC 2022 where players fight each other with weapons embedded with Kong chips. Points were recorded to the weapons after the interaction.
  • Live Minting. Galleries can design engaging, interactive minting experiences at physical locations by having guests scan a chipped disc to purchase editions of displayed artwork or mint a generative piece.
  • Tokenized Guestbooks. Audiences can record their “proof of presence” in a digital work. NFT metadata could update with each message from someone who has been in close proximity to it.

Digiphysical Experiments in Web3

Timeline of Digiphysical Experiments & Infrastructure Emergence in Web3

2019–2021: Early attempts to bridge the onchain and the physical

  • Notable experiments using chips are Kong Cash, Signed Star Trek Collectable and MetaFactory’s Genesis Bomber (February 2020) which utilized SiLos chips.
  • Redeem mechanics using ERC-20s (Saint Fame $FAME, Unisocks $SOCKS, Zora $TAPE) which traded in the open market prior to a date in which token holders could burn/replace the token in return for the physical product. Aside from showing proof of burn or the redemption token as receipt, there was no way for the owner of the physical product to prove ownership of it in real time, nor can the issuers continue to deliver perks as there isn’t an onchain linkage.
  • POAP launched as a way for individuals to have an onchain record of their involvement at events.

2021: New layers of infrastructure

  • IYK launched tools for issuers to program utility on top of chips, such as tap-to-own and tap-to-mint. This later enabled direct-to-item messaging in the VÉRITÉ Crewneck and POAP mints from 9dcc ITERATION-001 shirts.
  • Vaulting solutions like 4k and Courtyard also launched around this time, providing a solution to securing physicals prior to their redemption or during a trade.
  • Along with the rise of NFTs and generative art, Bright Moments launched to bring onchain art to physical spaces and soon started collaborating with platforms like ArtBlocks and fx(hash) to bring generative art mints/reveal experiences to the physical environment.

2022 — early 2023: Early applications on top of protocols

Seeded with the hardware and programmability layer, over the past year we saw adoption of digiphysicals in more markets, notably around tokenized communities and creator-fan engagement.

  • On-chain communities like Nouns began to issue merch, working with Dopamine to launch chipped streetwear that buyers can scan to gain access to digital rewards. The DAO also approved a budget to launch Nouns Vision, with Nouns members getting pre-mint access to an NFT redeemable for luxury Nouns sunglasses.
  • VÉRITÉ collaborated with IYK to launch the VÉRITÉ Crewneck, which can be tapped to gain early access to her next record and other exclusive experiences.
  • Token-gating, a mechanism pioneered by Collab.Land to restrict access to Discord and Telegram channels, started being applied to physical spaces. Organizations can use protocols like tokenproof to let attendees verify asset ownership to enter a venue.
  • Cryptonative brands outside of fashion such as Azuki made their foray into digiphysicals by utilizing Kong chips in their Golden Skateboards, and authoring a standard for physical-backed tokens (PBT).
  • As more cryptonatives got their hands on chipped products, social games emerged around meeting as many people wearing the collection as possible. POAP mints from 9dcc ITERATION-001 shirts are observable onchain as social graphs for the community at Art Basel in Miami. At ETH Denver, Bead DAO formed as a hackathon project where beaded lizards were embedded with Kong chips, and new members could get onboarded as they met individuals carrying lizards.
  • We saw the first loans taken out against digiphysicals, with gmoney taking out a loan against a 9dcc IT-001 shirt, vaulted on 4k. In April 2023, a 4k-issued PBT was used in a DeFi loan on a Rolex

The Web3 Digiphysical Stack

The Web3 Digiphysical Stack

Infrastructure Layer

Hardware. The physical interface, such as specialized NFC chips, dynamic QR codes, or stenography, provides a linkage and means of communication to the blockchain to update a digiphysical’s onchain record. It’s important to note that not all chips are made equal. For example Kong*’s latest HaLo chips, unlike its predecessor SiLo chips and typical NFC tags, can generate its own signatures and thus behave like a hardware wallet with its own identity (onchain address) — enabling the payment and co-signing use cases.

Creator Tools, Minting & Generative Engines. The programmability layer on top of hardware infrastructure enable creators to design digiphysical experiences. IYK* provides chip-agnostic software modules for issuers, including post-distribution tooling like tap analytics. Metalabel* is a platform for creators to discover each other and co-release work in the form of digiphysical record bundles as well as IRL experiences. fxhash, ArtBlocks provide minting engines for generative art, enabling live minting experiences at galleries and IRL events.

Vaulting, Escrow & Commerce. Escrow protocols like 4k, Courtyard, and Mynaswap provide shipping and storage services for physical products prior to NFT redemption or during a trade. This involves nftokenizing the product through each platform’s own minting service. Americana goes one step further to attach its own chip technology to physicals shipped in to be vaulted. These protocols are critical infrastructure for representing ownership of a physical asset onchain, as token owners must have confidence that the underlying asset exists in the exact form and quantity represented.

Supply & Value Chains. Protocols like Permet and Crowdmuse provide contribution tracking services along the supply chain of physical products from designers to manufacturers, which helps with subsequent value distribution when primitives are reused for future projects.

RWA Tokenization & Digitization protocols serve to give existing physical goods a representation onchain, ensuring linkage either by chipping the object (Mattereum’s Star Trek collectables, Sunya bracelets), or minting a “Physical-Backed Token” and securing the physical object through a decentralized network of Guardians (4k) or centralized service (Courtyard). The PBTs can then be traded on open markets like OpenSea or used as financial instruments in DeFi protocols. Digitization platform Altr gives physical brands tools to upload their archives as high-fidelity 3D assets, enabling virtual try-ons, wearables, and digiphysical redemption options.

NFT Financialization. Physical assets, once represented onchain as NFTs, can be plugged into the existing NFT finance infrastructure. They can be traded like any other NFT on OpenSea, and be used to collateralize loans on platforms like NFTfi* and Arcade. There are also specialized marketplaces such as unxd for tokenized luxury goods, Tectyle for tokenized textiles and fine art, and mntge for vintage clothes.

Generative Manufacturing / Digital-to-IRL. The adoption of generative engines has thus far been in the digital art market. As consumers look to engage with their collections IRL, projects like Trame and Artmatr provide a manufacturing pipeline for creators to transform digital files into physical art. Beyond the art market, these manufacturing pipelines could eventually serve as infrastructure for any generative consumer product. For example, a generative fashion item could first be minted as an NFT, which the holder could then use to purchase the corresponding physical product.

Standards & Registries. Physical-Backed Tokens (PBT) is a standard by which chipped physical goods can assert its own authenticity and maintain a tight coupling with its NFT counterpart onchain. This is achieved through chips that can generate its own signature, and only allowing NFT transfer if the signature of the chip is supplied to the contract (guaranteeing that a token cannot be transferred without consent from the owner of the physical item). Ethereum Reality Service (ERS), spearheaded by Arx (of Kong chips), proposes canonical registries for chips, manufacturers, and service providers which attests to the function of chips and the projects/companies embedding them in objects. It also proposes schemas whereby developers can indicate what claims and functions are possible against chips.

Application & Utility Layer

Token-Gating, Ticketing, & Memberships. Protocols like Collab.Land, Guild, Tokenproof, and Unlock allow communities to build custom token-based logic for who is allowed to access digital spaces, IRL events, and digiphysical perks (e.g. Shopify discounts). In addition to a collector’s onchain history and asset ownership, these tools could be used to extend eligibility to people who own physical products as well e.g. scan your hoodie for early access to ticket sales.

Live Minting. Communities like Bright Moments and VerticalCrypto Art host IRL events around the world centered around showcasing generative art, typically working with artists to design the physical reveal and minting experience for ticket holders and DAO members. Some galleries, like imnotArt, also has virtual world real estate where users can visit and bid on curated artwork.

Community Engagement. While POAP* is widely known to be badges that prove you attended an event, the protocol becomes more powerful when individuals are wearing chipped community merch as they can become POAP issuers themselves. TYB helps brands leverage web3 memberships to drive product development and activation, rewarding in-store visits, token-gating Shopify discounts, and enabling community co-creation.


We look forward to seeing more experiments in digiphysical consumer goods and experiences and anticipate that

  • Chips will become cheaper and economically viable to be used in products beyond high end fashion, collectables and art
  • Consumers will soon expect that creator and community merch be chipped and able to interact with them in IRL events to access future rewards
  • DAOs and cryptonative communities will start using digiphysicals in the form of cards to perform operations like co-signing and payments
  • NFTs will increasingly be used to represent ownership of a physical asset thanks to tokenization and vaulting protocols, bringing the cost and speed of trading down to that of purely digital assets. We’ll also see tokenized RWAs like collectables, high end fashion items being leveraged in NFT finance protocols

If you are building something in this space or have additional thoughts on the topic, would love to chat! Please reach out on Twitter @nichanank

*denotes 1kx portfolio companies.

Many thanks to pet3rpan, Chris Lee, gmoney, Cameron Robertson, Drew Harding, and Richard Li for their review and feedback on drafts of this.

Digiphysical Goods: Bringing Programmable Utility to Physical Products was originally published in 1kxnetwork on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Multiplayer Creation: Unlocking Participatory Media


Co-written with Justin McAfee

The relationship between creators and their end audiences has mostly been a one way street. Creators produce work in isolation within walled gardens, and end consumers are presented with the final product — whether that be music, articles, podcast episodes, or art — with limited means to participate in the creative process.

Over the past 4 years, the emergence of web3 has enabled broader participation in creative works, blurring the lines between creators and their communities. From the blockchain itself serving as a canvas for an entirely new art form (on-chain data as inputs to dynamic art), to governance infrastructure that allows communities to voice what content should be funded, web3 is making the creator process increasingly multiplayer.

By having a larger group involved in the creative process end-to-end, we are able to:

  • Give creators a new playing field where they can define a set of values, source ideas from within the community, and produce art that doesn’t compromise to third-party interests
  • Provide creators a tighter feedback loop from their communities for to-be-released work, de-risking distribution and crowd affinity
  • Allow creators to replace platforms with communities as a resource, support system, and creative guidance
  • Introduces a “world to discover” around a project through dynamic reveals, and art that evolves with the community of collectors as they grow
  • Use the blockchain itself as a new medium for individuals to express themselves, producing a novel type of cultural artifact that was produced via on-chain interactions

While many forms of media today involve multiple parties (for example, the cast and crew of a movie, artist and production team for a music album), the prevailing paradigm for releasing works limits who can participate by means of geography, and economic or social access.

The multiplayer creativity stack introduces permissionless and composable infrastructure that removes these superficial barriers, enabling communities to discover and onboard the individuals that share their purpose, produce creative works that stay true to their values, and sustain itself without subverting to the success metrics of third parties.

In this article we will:

  • Provide a framework for the creative process, and give examples of how web3 projects are enabling co-creation at each stage of the process
  • Explore how the web3 creativity stack has gone from singleplayer to multiplayer
  • Categorize ways in which multiplayer creativity infrastructure is emerging in web3

What is Multiplayer Creation?

Multiplayer creation is the end-to-end process of Formation, Coordination, Production, Value Distribution, and Post-Release evolution of creative work — in which multiple parties are involved in one or more of the stages.

The “multiplayerness” is the way and degree to which individual inputs into the product is influenced by multiple sources that may or may not have existing relationships. The end product is format-agnostic, and can be static or dynamic (continuously evolving deterministically through transfer chains or with collectors directly affecting the work).

1) Formation

How do creators find collaborators?

In the past, collaborators were often found in existing inner circles or limited to the same geographic location as the creator. Today, web3 is enabling co-creators to discover each other based on shared values, interests, and purpose, despite never having met IRL.

Metalabel has begun to conceptualize what this formation could look like. Their second release, “Elements of a Metalabel”, gets creators thinking about their core purpose and participation principles.

Elements of a Metalabel

2) Coordination

How do creators make decisions about how resources are allocated, or what ideas should be funded?

Traditionally, decisions are made by middlemen whose interests lie outside of what a creator’s audience might actually want. Now, creators can make decisions and govern the future direction of a project together.

Although Rehash podcast is recorded and produced by one host, it goes through a bottoms-up decision making process for which guests should appear in the next season.

How Rehash utilises JokeDAO

3) Production

How are creative inputs being curated into the final creative output?

While some traditional forms of media require multiple parties to produce (e.g. record labels, musicians, songwriters, etc for music), production was limited to a centralized cohort. Web3 opens up participation in the production process by allowing various perspectives and individual contributions to be integrated into a final product.

Straylight is a collaborative on-chain Etch-a-Sketch in which players mint Turmite NFTs which come with a move ability. Turmites can dig in ~60k patterns via moves. Straylight Worlds contain 4 Turmites, where up to 4 players are creating different patterns on the World by moving them.

Straylight Protocol

4) Value Distribution

How are attributions tracked, and how is value distributed to creators who have contributed to the final output, either passively or actively?

Historically, this is a nebulous and abstract process, but now we are seeing a shift toward equitable ownership and distribution of value based on transparent metrics.

5) Post-release

If/how the final output can evolve over time as the community grows or an asset changes hands.

Most compositions are static and unchanging after they are released by a creator. The possibility of dynamic compositions is uniquely unlocked by web3 given consumers can now engage with or influence the product through trackable state changes in real time.

Using these framework, we can start to bucket existing web3 projects that enable multiplayerness at each stage of creation.

Flavors of Multiplayer Creation

Multiplayer creation occurs when an individual or group provides input into either the parameters or the complete composition of a final product. We can categorize it by asking 2 questions:

Who is providing the creative inputs and who is putting them together?

  • Singleplayer. Individuals upload work to a media registry, and another party composes these primitives together to form an end product. For example, beatmakers and instrumentalists uploading to the Arpeggi sound library, and another artist putting these primitives together to form a song.
  • Curated group. Musicians coming together to release a record as a headless band e.g. Songcamp’s CHAOS.
  • Uncurated group. Anyone can be brought into influence the art through transfer chains or other on-chain interaction with the NFT e.g. Entropes.

What does the creative input look like?

  • Parameter input. Collectors influence the final display of a generative artwork by factors like mint time, their wallet address, or transfer activity e.g. OG Crystals
  • Product input. Artists contribute a building block that can readily be composed with others into the complete product. For example, a fashion designer provides the textures “Garments” for end-consumer to assemble into a minted wearable according to their preferences using Fabricant.

Putting these together, Arpeggi and Fabricant could be categorized as “Singleplayer, product input”. Songcamp’s CHAOS album falls under “Curated group, product input”. OG Crystals and Entropes would be “Uncurated group, parameter input”.

We invite readers to go through the exercise with their favorite NFT projects and comment on the nuances they find here. As the infrastructure to form creator groups, coordinate, and co-produce matures, we can expect the engagement with these works not only to become richer, but to come from individuals who truly share the interests and values of those they are creating with.

How is multiplayer infrastructure emerging?

Early NFT marketplaces demonstrated the power of blockchains as a means for immediate, direct value exchange for creative works. Though first-generation NFTs were created and curated in singleplayer mode (released by individual creators and curated by centralized marketplaces), it didn’t take long for the ecosystem to experiment with multiplayerness thanks to the composable nature of NFTs.

Applications becoming infrastructure

From its launch in 2018 to DeFi Summer in 2020, Uniswap was primarily used as a decentralized exchange application. But because its smart contracts are on a public blockchain for anyone to build on top of, Uniswap is now a critical infrastructure for more complex DeFi use cases like yield farming and automated liquidity management.

This pattern follows the app-infrastructure cycle we have seen in previous waves of innovation, where a proliferation of apps is soon followed by a wave of infrastructure that enhances those apps and unlocks more complex use cases in alternating, responsive cycles.

For on-chain creative works, we have seen the proliferation of NFT minting platforms for creators to self-publish everything from art to writing and music, and marketplaces where they can earn a living from a worldwide audience.

  • PartyBid launched as an application for collective NFT purchases funded by a group. This has been extended into Party Protocol for group formation and governance infrastructure. Party Protocol has already been used to build an on-chain Tic-Tac-Toe game, where players crowdfund the purchase of X or O NFTs and decide on each move.
  • Zora launched as an NFT minting platform and marketplace. It now offers an extensive toolsuite for the creation, indexing, rendering and management of NFTs.
  • Sound, a music NFT platform and marketplace is protocolizing into Sound Protocol, a permissionless smart contract framework for musicians and creators with customizable metadata, edition, and payments modules.

Simultaneous to the proliferation of NFT financialization infrastructure that gives holders multiple avenues to find liquidity for their collection, increased protocolization of creativity tools lay the foundation for how NFTs can be utilized and evolved at the social layer.

An extended use case for DAO tools

DAO tools and experiments in decentralized governance have provided fertile ground for various stages of multiplayer creativity.

  • Group Formation. Formation of DAOs, communities, and groups has been expedited by new tools like Metalabel* and PartyBid. These protocols seek to make formation as seamless as possible by connecting individuals from around the world based on interests or ideas and allowing them to create lightweight structures for self-organization.
  • Governance. Bottom-up proposal management tools like JokeDAO* and Prop House, and voting infrastructure like Snapshot* can be adopted during the coordination phase of multiplayer creation.
  • Treasury Management & Compensation. Co-creators of a released work can manage their earned revenue and distribute earnings through tools such as Safe* (multisig wallet), Superfluid (token streaming), and 0xSplits (programmable token distribution logic).
  • Access Control. Token-gating has become ubiquitous in web3 communities thanks to products like Collab.Land, Highlight* and Guild. Programmable access control protocols like Lit*, and “bridges” to physical products like IYK*, Kong* will expand ways for who can interact (and influence) creative works post-release.
  • Identity & Reputation. The web3 identity stack extends beyond DAOs, but credentialing protocols often turn to on-chain communities as issuers of the building blocks that give individuals sovereignty over their contributions, skills, and reputation data. This paves the way for creators to attest their qualifications during the formation phase of multiplayer creativity, enabling fluid participation in multiple co-creation projects.

Platform-agnostic registries

On-chain registries are the building blocks of decentralized attribution. Registry data can be referenced by any platform or service and used for any authentication, authorization, and value distribution logic.

  • Manifold’s Royalty Registry provides a way for any marketplace to look up royalties for any given token contract.
  • Arpeggi’s Audio Relationship Protocol (ARP) is a decentralized sound library with full audio and authorship information which provides attribution data for collaborators of a song.
  • Kong’s Ethereum Reality Service is a on-chain registry for physical cryptoassets, attesting to the chip manufacturers and creators of chipped physical products. Holders can authenticate and resolve what smart contract claims and functions are available to given chips.

Pure experiments in on-chain co-creation

  • Entropes & Spells. Entropes are ever-evolving NFTs whose art gains visual complexity as the token gets transferred to new wallets. The artwork at any given point in time is a snapshot of the transfer chain of owners before it. Spells adds another layer of interactivity, as Spells NFTs holders can cast spells on Entropes to add a special, temporary effect.
  • OG.Art. OG Art is a dynamic art platform in which the initial minter “seeds” the art via their wallet address and history. During the “Growth Period”, new structures and patterns get added onto the art as the token gets transferred. Each OG.Art collection has a community of collectors and a DAO that plays a role in evolving the project and shaping its future through direct voting decisions.

Similar to how the CryptoKitties popularity accelerated the development and adoption of ERC721, these experiments could birth new token standards and protocols for multiplayer creations. Spells is the first implementation of EIP5050, a proposal for an interactive NFTs standard and messaging protocol defining how an action is initiated and transmitted between tokens and (optional) shared state environments.

Standardization and protocolization of the multiplayer creativity stack will help abstract away the complexities of building tools from scratch, improve the discoverability of new types of creative work, and pave the way for more complex experiments to take place on top.

These tools open the floor for entirely new categories of creators. Individuals that might not even consider themselves a creator today can already influence cultural output in web3: by minting generative art on ArtBlocks, by proposing Rehash podcast episodes, by moving their Turmites on Straylight Worlds.

The primary enabler of multiplayer creation is the underlying primitives. Primitives can be understood as basic components which are assembled, modified, or otherwise utilized by one party to impact the final creative output of all parties. Primitives can vary, but some notable examples include musical stems, artistic blueprints, composable layers, and entropy.

Some markets are by design more viable for multiplayer creativity than others. The adoption of multiplayer creation methods in the music industry versus the traditional art industry is particularly notable, so we use these two markets to showcase a variety of factors below:


Oral storytelling, folk music, fanfiction, and early role playing games have long utilized the combined creative input of the collective to produce cultural artifacts surrounding a set of values or an idea. The resulting body of work has encapsulated the cultural zeitgeist throughout history more than what any one individual could have achieved on their own.

Tools for multiplayer creation have the power to turn passive consumers into creators by turning arbitrary on-chain interactions into a form of self-expression. These tools also bring artists closer to their audience than ever before by way of tighter pre-production feedback loops and post-release interactions. Blockchains and platform-agnostic standards adds provenance and composability to creative works, enabling communities to sample, remix, and make their mark on culture in ways that were not possible before.

After analyzing the evolution of creator-focused products and services in web3: NFT publishing platforms, infrastructure, developer tools, and curation economies, we are excited to see that the space is innovating towards a multiplayer paradigm that we believe will usher in a new era of participatory media where content is valued for the cumulative involvement of multiple parties instead of a single individual.

If you’re building infrastructure or applications that enable multiplayer creation, please reach out to us.

Note: we are now on Mirror! Moving forward you will be able to collect our writing as NFTs, starting with this one.

*denotes 1kx portfolio companies.

Many thanks to Cooper Turley, David Phelps, Matthew Chaim, Nat Emodi, Varun Iyer, Chris Lee, pet3rpan, and Dmitriy Berenzon for reviewing drafts of this.

Multiplayer Creation: Unlocking Participatory Media was originally published in 1kxnetwork on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.