From cop to gardener online: NFT games win fans in Venezuela

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Zacary Egea wakes up nervous in the middle of the night. “The plant!” he exclaims before jumping to the computer and confirming that everything is fine. He is one of the many Venezuelans who support the games NFT as a way to earn money.

Zacary, 32, plays Plant Vs. Undead, in which he grows virtual plants that he can sell, after an initial investment that pays off if all the program’s instructions are followed.

These electronic games are based on non-fungible tokens (NFT), digital assets on blockchain technology platforms – the same used with cryptocurrencies – which can be exchanged for cash.

He was a police officer for nine years, but hung up his uniform because of the low salary he earned in a country going through its eighth year of recession and fourth year of hyperinflation, and where the local currency and savings capacity have been destroyed.

“What do I want with this? Saving up money to have a house of my own to have my family,” this man who lives with his mother in an apartment complex in a popular area of ​​Caracas told AFP. “It’s a long-term projection.”

With about $300 he saved by working as a motorcycle taxi driver and delivering an application – his current job – he improved his computer and started playing games.

Before, it opened a digital wallet to process NFTs in order to exchange their winnings for real money.

His first investment: $80 in a sunflower and some digital cabbages, which at some point will allow him to buy a seed to “plant” a tree, which he can then sell for $2,000 when it grows.

urn newsml afp.com 20210920 f2fef0a2 965c 4aee b968 3f64edd54dc9 ipad From cop to gardener online: NFT games win fans in Venezuela Zacary Egea was a police officer for nine years, a career he abandoned due to his low salary.

Zacary Egea was a police officer for nine years, a career he abandoned due to his low salary. (JAVIER TOVAR/AFP)

In a school notebook, he records the details of his trade’s behavior, with market data like a stockbroker.

“At 6 in the morning I’m stopped watching the game. After I go out to work on the street, I pay attention (on my cell phone) to water the plant, so that I don’t have a crow” that harms it, he explains.

“One night I was asleep and woke up restless… ‘The plant!’ And I got up to connect. But it was okay,” he remembers laughing.

the “bags”

It is increasingly common to hear about NFT games on the streets, especially in the working class neighborhoods of Caracas.

A grocery store owner suddenly appears and interrupts a group that is talking about the subject. “Are you talking about ‘Plant’?!” he asks enthusiastically. “I want to get in.”

A sample of the attraction generated by these video games is that among the 50 most visited sites in Venezuela, according to Amazon’s Alexa index, Plant Vs. Undead appears in 18th place, and in 35th is Axie Infinity, another NFT game in which the user fights with creatures called “axies” that are also digitized as exchangeable tokens for cash.