A Complete Newbie Attends a Virtual NFT Event
Follow along with Jazz as she explores DYGYCON 8, a metaverse experience hosted by Splinterlands, to see what all the hype is about!
Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you your eyes would turn square if you stared at the TV too long? Well, after attending DYGYCON 8, I can confirm that that’s true – and furthermore, that it’s entirely worth it.
I’d heard about DYGYCON’s last iteration back in January, and, at the time, I just didn’t get it. Why would anyone stay up all night, feverishly chatting with internet strangers, ‘walking’ around a building that didn’t actually exist, and living vicariously through a digital avatar?
I glanced at it briefly at the time, curious to what all the fuss was about, but ultimately my ancient laptop struggled with anything beyond the welcome screen, and I gave up without putting too much effort into finding a solution.
All that, however, was before I was really part of the NFT community myself, and this time around I could barely contain my excitement in the lead-up to the eighth iteration of the virtual event.
After having explored the NFT space a little more, I recognised why an event like DYGYCON, hosted by the team behind Splinterlands, was an important part of the evolution of this community.
Over three days, NFT creators and collectors from all over the world, and from all different backgrounds, meet in a virtual conference hall to learn about new projects, attend talks, and generally just have a good time together. For a community as widespread and disembodied as ours, this is the most accessible way to get everyone in the same place at the same time, even if that place exists only on our screens.
I’d never attended a virtual event before, or anything remotely like it, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I knew was that this would be an opportunity to meet some of my newfound internet friends in slightly realer life.
Determined not to be thwarted by my laptop this time, I’d procured a decent PC just for the purpose of DYGYCON.
On the Friday of the event, I arrived home from work right as the official start of the conference was kicking off, and eagerly rushed to the computer, not wanting to miss a single waking moment. I got myself comfortable on the living room couch – keyboard, mouse and headphone cables snaking all over the floor, TV hooked up as a monitor. I already knew I’d be spending the better part of the next three days here.
My first task was setting up my avatar, and I was pleased to find that there were enough combinations to make a relatively unique character. Purple hair was even an option, and with that I felt myself become one with my avatar. My digital body inhabited, I entered the event proper, and found myself spawned in front of a huge conference hall.
The blue sky overhead shone with promise, soothing music played in the background, and the logos of dozens upon dozens of NFT projects beckoned to me from inside. At that invitation, I sent my digital self into the building to begin my very first digital conference experience.
Immediately I was presented with a number of portals, each of which would whisk me away to a different hall which, in turn, would be filled with a huge collection of project booths.
My first stop, of course, was the AtomicHub Hall. This is where I knew I’d find much of the WAX community that I’ve grown to love, and where I hoped to see a few familiar names, transformed into faces. It was still quiet when I arrived, but I immediately stumbled across a name I’d seen prolifically, and the voice to go with it.
Having been a part of the AtomicHub Discord server for a while now, I was more than familiar with z3us – one of the community managers, and co-host of the weekly stage calls and Twitter Spaces. I found her chatting with Larcey from the WAX team, and I was immediately struck by the accessibility that an event like DYGYCON offered.
I joined their conversation on the presence of women in the NFT space – something I’m becoming increasingly passionate about – and despite the initial awkwardness I felt within my digital body, I also felt an immediate sense of welcome and belonging.
This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. All my favourite creators – MikeeMyk of Waxy and Red Panda Adventures, Sas of Cat Stickers, Floyd of Floyd Jenkins’ Deck of Mythical Varmints, Stuck of The Adventurer’s Guild and SixPm Software, Josh of Costume Clash, Dan of Immersys, alongside countless others – were all there, ready and willing to chat with me. Red Ro, of Order of Other, even gifted me my first accessory unlock code, allowing me to don a witch hat, and making my avatar an even more accurate depiction of my real-life self.
After a long first evening of virtual socialising and booth exploring, I went to bed, tired but already excited for the following day, which I knew would be full.
The Saturday of DYGYCON is always the pinnacle of the event, featuring the majority of the presentations slated for the weekend. However, the fact that everyone is in different time zones means there’s never a moment when the halls are empty.
Overnight, MikeeMyk had done an impromptu live drawing session and, as much as I value sleep, I was kicking myself for succumbing to the needs of my physical body and missing it. As Floyd Jenkins so eloquently put it, “The FOMO is real at DYGYCON.”
Nevertheless, my regular sleep schedule meant that I was up and raring to go when Stuck hosted his presentation on The Adventurer’s Guild in the SixPM Hall the next day.
Much like a real-life conference, DYGYCON is the perfect opportunity for projects to announce new developments. Along with a few dozen others, I was one of the first to see the amazing new TAG avatar NFTs – an exciting moment for a recent blockchain gaming convert like myself! We had the opportunity to ask questions, and Stuck proceeded to screenshare some live gameplay while he chatted with the audience.
Later in the day, as the halls filled up again, I found myself jostling for a position in the Cat Stickers booth to listen in as Sas presented ‘the cutest little cat stickers on the WAX blockchain’. I say jostling as though I were literally shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, but in fact, I was standing in the booth alone, waiting for a good 10 minutes before I realised I was in the wrong instance.
This is how I discovered the limitations of the conference. In much the same way that a physical space has a certain capacity, so, too, do digital spaces. The Cat Stickers AMA had filled up and I hadn’t made it. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a… never mind. There’s more than one way to take part, and I was able to catch the rest of the AMA through Discord, as Sas streamed live from DYGYCON.
As a burgeoning creator myself, I was spending a great deal of my time scheming about the future possibilities for my own collection. I’d already gotten to know some amazing new creators, as well as becoming even more invested in projects I was already connected to, and I could see what an amazing opportunity DYGYCON was creating for visibility. Never in a million years, however, did I expect that any of that would apply to me this time around. That’s where I was wrong.
About 15 minutes into a casual chat with StabbyQuack of Digital Ducks, he offhandedly announced, “I just bought your NFT.”
I thought I’d misheard. The only NFTs I’d minted until that point were the free promo stickers that had been mostly claimed by flippers with no interest in my project, and had then been listed on the secondary market for laughable prices. This new friend had gone and bought one without a second thought, simply for the sake of supporting me as a new creator in the community. I was floored, and spent the rest of the day with a huge grin on my face. I had just earned my very first WAX and I was ecstatic.
Perhaps the highlight of my weekend, though, was the AMA and live drawing session that MikeeMyk held later that day. I was determined not to miss out this time and made sure to show up nice and early to the booth that was to house the talk. This time, I really was shoulder-to-shoulder, the space packed to the brim with fans of Waxy and Red Panda Adventures.
Not only had I made it, but all my friends were there too! Mikee himself, as it turns out, is a man of few words, preferring to let his art do the talking, and so it became more of a group hang-out session than a presentation.
As Mikee wowed us with his incredibly efficient illustration skills, the rest of us alternated between showering him with compliments and making jokes about his secret Waxy factory. It was the most heart-warming and community-building experience I’ve had in this space so far and it makes me want to dig in even more. Hydro even live-streamed the event on Twitch, meaning I can relive that moment all over again if I want to.
From there, I went to check out the Digital Ducks AMA one booth over, along with everyone else, and we executed a mass exodus – jumping as one enormous group from one booth to the other in a comic arrival. It might sound silly, but in that moment I felt like I was one of the cool kids – that I’d chanced my way into a group of amazing creators, artists, and community builders, in whose company I felt like a complete imposter. The magic of all this, though, is that I was a very welcome imposter, and once again, that huge grin spread across my face. I like to think my avatar had an extra sparkle in her eye too.
After the Digital Ducks AMA, which ended up moving to a theatre out of sheer popularity, I spent the rest of the evening in a dedicated chill space, chatting with Sas, Stuck, Phoenix of AtomicHub, and Mikee, who proceeded to comically harass Sas with an ever-increasing number of hilariously-named alt-avatars. I was thrilled to catch Sas in an impromptu live-drawing session, and felt my FOMO melt away with each line she added to her DYGYCON cat.
I went to bed late that night, satisfied and happy, and ready for one last day of digital socialising.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with the screentime by then, but I knew that I’d miss the conference as soon as it was over, and I battled through my TV-induced headache to make the most of one last day. I’m so glad I did.
The Sunday of DYGYCON is comparatively quiet, as people recover from the late-night conversations of the night before, and prepare to return back to the ‘real world’. I spent this day visiting all the booths I hadn’t had the chance to see yet, signing up for the enormous array of swag that so many of these projects offered. In between, I took as many opportunities as I could to chat with familiar folks I’d met along the way.
I learned about so many new projects, and met so many new people, that by the time I arrived at the AtomicHub giveaway that night, I felt like I was surrounded by a little virtual family. As the closing remarks were made, and the event wrapped up, I took a moment to reflect on the weekend.
My first digital conference was an entirely unique experience, and yet it was imbued with such a sense of familiarity. I realised, as I often have before, that the heart of the NFT space is the people, and I was so grateful for the chance to connect even more deeply with this incredible community.
With reluctance, I left the event for the last time that weekend, leaving a trail of heart emojis behind me – my eyes square, my heart full, and already yearning for DYGYCON 9.