A Gamer’s Review of CryptoKitties

Alex Kim

 

“Bonjour! I’m x66x. All you need to know about me is I hate macaroni casserole with a passion. I’m on a new diet that consists of salad and sausage links,” reads my kitten’s profile. Fortunately for “x66x”, it inherited its likeness from one of its androgynous parents “10”, from whom it inherited its love for sausage links. I refer to my adorable kitten as “it” to avoid being gender normative, because just like its parents, “x66x” is neither male nor female; it is simply a Gen 2 kitten with sleek, beautiful “sphynx” fur.

As nutty as it sounds, if none of this makes any sense, it’s because it doesn’t. “x66x” is a virtual kitten I bought through an auction on CryptoKitties with a modest bid of 0.003 Ether for no other reason than to fill an emotional void I never knew even existed. Between sitting in law school classes and playing League of Legends while I continue to rehab from my torn Achilles, I needed an extra kick to vanquish any remaining boredom in my system. If for nothing else, “x66x” can be my virtual therapy house cat before I try to trade it for some other adorable virtual kitty. So did CryptoKitties succeed in helping me conquer my law school demons? To avoid sounding like your pedestrian cryptocurrency evangelist on r/cryptocurrency, let me share my unfiltered thoughts playing CryptoKitties, the game.

Setting Up: 4/10

Metamask, your nosy neighborhood fox.

First, to play CryptoKitties, one needs to own some Ether. Ether can be acquired through many different channels. I acquired mine by exchanging some Bitcoin for Ether on Changelly, mostly because I didn’t own any Ether on Coinbase and didn’t have enough time to go through Coinbase’s vomit-inducing confirmation process. But simply owning Ether is not enough; I must transfer my Ether to a web-based wallet called MetaMask. MetaMask is a Google Chrome extension. The confirmation of the transfer takes around 10 to 15 minutes. Once I have some Ether in MetaMask, I must link my MetaMask account to CryptoKitties. That process takes all of two clicks once on https://cryptokitties.co. Overall, the steps needed to even start playing CryptoKitties are not at all rewarding.

Buying a CryptoKitty: 6/10

Does Vulcant evolve into Victoire?

Once the CryptoKitties account is up and running, I can browse through the catalogue (pun intended) to shop for the perfect virtual cat. The New Arrivals section showcases Gen 0 Kitties, which are rarer than your average street cat and therefore more expensive. The Latest Cattributes section boasts Kitties with newly discovered phenotypes. The rest are Fancy Cats and Exclusive Cats, which look more like crosses between Digimon and Pokemon than cat avatars. Clicking on an individual Kitty will take you to its profile, where I can read all about the cat’s personality, physical traits, and lineage. I purchased “x66x” because it was fairly cheap and it looked grumpy. It stared back at me with a stern, I-told-you-so look like it knows that the economy is nearing the end of a historic bull run yet I am powerless to stop the coming downturn. At least Ether will be worth something then… right?

6/10, is amusing.

Breeding: 6.5/10

“H E R E Y E S” (left) has some serious eyelash action going on.

Now that I have my own CryptoKitty, I can trade it, sell it, or have it mate with other Kitties to breed new cats. Once it mates, it has a refractory period of anywhere between one minute to one week (oof). The cooldown period increases every time a Kitty is successful. “x66x” is on a “Snappy Cooldown” of between 10 and 30 minutes because it already gave birth to two Kitties, “H E R E Y E S” and “Camo #7”. Each time a Kitty breeds, there is a chance of a genetic “mewtation” that may or may not result in desirable traits. All things considered, I think “x66x” has beautiful Kitties. I have absolutely no intention of breeding virtual cats for money, however, so I still have no idea why I decided to purchase one in the first place.

6.5/10, is hilarious.

Verdict: 5/10

Playing CryptoKitties is just like playing Neopets with the added novelty of cryptocurrency transactions. As an amateur gamer who has logged some serious hours in RPGs, RTSs, MOBAs, and various sports titles, however, CryptoKitties is underwhelming. It doesn’t have the addicting pointlessness of Cookie Clicker and isn’t as interactive as Pokemon to make it as memorable or endearing. I wish the game offered virtual accessories and chores. I am sure there are plenty of enthusiasts out there that would pay to take their CryptoKitties to the vet to keep them healthy and adorn them with colorful sweaters. I also wish CryptoKitties had mood indicators. I would certainly be more concerned if my Kitty was feeling blue and did not like my cat food. In sum, CryptoKittties has done enough to get me started but hasn’t done enough to keep me going.