Mauro Velazquez, a former professional poker player, is planning to use his winnings to develop a new game that will allow players to collect bitcoin from real-world locations.
The game, Coinding, is designed to be virtual scavenger hunt (much like Geocaching) with players finding and collecting bitcoin from locations around the world. Players will be able to retrieve bitcoin deposited on the streets by the game’s developers, or collect them by completing challenges. Mauro Velazquez, Coinding’s Argentinean founder, said:
“We’re leveraging the ability to give away fractions of bitcoins so that more people can get into the bitcoin economy before going through the barrier of actually risking money to buy them.”
Velazquez said he had a team of eight working on the game, which is scheduled for release in three months. It will be available on iOS and Android.
Coinding is scheduled to enter a closed testing phase in three weeks, Velazquez said. Currently, users can join the startup’s mailing list and place bitcoin in locations of their choice. The game will be rely on CoinMap to supply its information. CoinMap is a popular open-source map of real-world locations that accept bitcoin.
According to Velazquez, Coinding’s stash of bitcoin will come from a variety of sources, including contributions from the developers and businesses who want to attract bitcoin users to their establishments.
Coinding is unusual, as it’s a bitcoin startup that isn’t directly involved in the storage, production or distribution of bitcoin. Velazquez said:
“All of that is necessary, but there is now a need for second-level startups that take advantage of the benefits that these core businesses are providing.”
A lucky hand
Velazquez was working on Battlepro, a company combining games and money, when he discovered bitcoin. Battlepro, which was still being tested, was designed to let professional video gamers compete for money. It was touted as a “universal skill-based betting site”.
However, two months ago, Velazquez learned about bitcoin from Wences Casares, the chief executive of Lemon Wallet, a mobile digital wallet app.
“We started getting more and more involved in the bitcoin world and seeing how it could change how almost everything works,” Velazquez said.
Velazquez decided to abandon Battlepro and focus his team’s efforts on a bitcoin-related product, which became Coinding. He said his team is currently funded by his winnings from playing online poker professionally for two years.
He claims he made $250,000 over the course of his poker career. After leaving online poker, he coached several players.
Coinding appears to have received a relatively positive reception from reddit’s bitcoin community so far. A thread started by Velazquez attracted comments like this one, for example:
“I really like this idea. Better ways to get bitcoin into the hands of first-time users are needed. This looks like a fun way to do it.”
Velazquez said that linking games to money set up an “interesting dynamic” that could get players more deeply involved.
“I don’t think profit needs to be linked to playing games … but people always get more excited when there’s something at stake,” he said.
Game developers have been taking to bitcoin in a big way recently, often with gambling thrown in the mix.
German game developer Bigpoint allowed users to buy in-game virtual goods with bitcoins in September. Bitchicken and Coinbomb are two casual games that let players wager bitcoin in tests of mathematical ability and trading ability.