How this Web3 platform turns the NFT trading experience into a playful game of art theft

How this Web3 platform turns the NFT trading experience into a playful game of art theft

Stealcam asks its collectors to “steal” NFTs from each other.

the art ghost, Dunescape #49: Home. Photo: Stealcam

Since late March, a small corner of the Web3 Twittersphere has been playing a fun and frenetic game of NFT trading.

It’s called Stealcam and it goes something like this: users connect their crypto wallets to the platform and upload photos or videos that instantly become NFTs. These pixels are unrecognizable to everyone except the owner. Users are encouraged to steal NFTs from each other with the price increasing by 10 percent with each forced handover.

The victim of NFT theft gets back the price they paid with the profit amount – call it a crypto tithe – split between the image creator and the previous owner, who both receive 45 percent, and Stealcam, which claims the remaining 10 percent.

Stealcam calls its NFTs “memories” and has largely gained traction through social posts on Twitter. It’s like the cheeky blockchain cousin of BeReal (the social media app that asks users to share a photo of themselves at random points throughout the day), but one charged with the economic dynamics of crypto and the social dynamics that is special for it. Stealcam’s catchphrase? “Stealing to reveal.”

Works on Stealcam off [clockwise from top-left] blua_discordia, rkeinwold, erogwen and 0xPresley. Photo: Stealcam.

If this sounds like a commentary on the ever-fluctuating values ​​of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, it is an unintended consequence of the web app’s success. Stealcam was launched by pseudonymous developers known as Racer and Shrimp based on an interest in creating social apps for crypto platforms.

“We didn’t intend for the platform itself to be commentary, although I see where that’s coming from,” Racer told Artnet News. “We wanted to focus more on enabling creators rather than trying to be artists or creators ourselves.” One aspect of this idea is that people’s everyday moments have value, those that can be measured in ETH.

The scene on Stealcam, as Racer described it, consists of crypto-natives, who see it as a playful extension of already established social media circles, and “web artists” who push the app to its artistic limits by playing with concepts such as . pixelation and interactivity (image descriptions are inevitably a secret). Race cited SHL0MSStealcam’s best performer, as a prime example.

One of the most active artists on Stealcam is Ben DeMeter who creates abstract geometric art using AI models under the name ArtGhost. DeMeter came to Stealcam by accident, having struggled to gain traction on established Web3 platforms.

“It felt like the early days of Web3, ‘a thing’ was being built, but no one knew what to do with the ‘thing,'” DeMeter told Artnet News. “People were experimenting. Dropping sketches or practice pieces or pictures of themselves wearing clothes . I saw an opportunity to do something bold: drop an entire collection.”

Ben DeMeter, Dunescape #6: Vapor City (2023). Photo courtesy of Ben DeMeter.

As this suggests, compared to other NFT platforms or marketplaces, Stealcam is decidedly low-stakes, low-barrier to entry, partly due to its low prices. This extends to the art featured on the app, which Racer describes as low production quality, often in progress, and an extension of the “understated ethos”.

Activity on Stealcam may have cooled down a bit in recent weeks, but Racer and Shrimp plan to further expand Stealcam by offering crypto wallet solutions so that any artist can join. Next, Racer hopes to launch adjacent projects that connect text, audio or social media profiles with similar dynamics.

“Gamification,” said Racer, “is the mood.”

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