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Virtual Worlds and Real Zombies

A virtual reality check, with avatars, cryptocurrencies and zombies. (Yes, zombies).

Virtual Worlds and Real Zombies

I was flipping through my issue of Decrypt magazine last month, and I came across this article about legendary video game pioneer Atari opening a casino.

Reading further, I realized it’s not a real casino. It’s not even an online casino as we understand online casinos. It’s a virtual casino that takes cryptocurrency, for gambling games based on Atari classics. Not only that, this virtual casino is in “Decentraland,” a virtual world which, according to Decrypt, will “emulate the real-life gambling metropolis.”

What, you don’t read Decrypt? I make sure I virtually read it every month. (Which is to say, I imagine myself reading it.)

That last sentence is actually not too much farther from reality than Decentraland, a virtual world you can explore for nothing. But if you want to own part of it, you’ve got to pay for it with Etherium, an evolution of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. In Decentraland, they call the cyber-money “mana.”

The Decrypt reporter says he bought 67 mana for £5, which works out to around 13 mana to the pound. So, at 13 mana for $1.39 in Yankee dollars, I can get a man, or manus, for around 11 cents, as of this writing. An “estate,” which is two or more parcels of virtual land, goes for 18,000 mana. So, for just under $2,000, I can become a Decentraland country squire.

Of course, I’m guessing the casino-zoned land that Atari bought went for many, many more mana, man. (Sorry.)

Decentraland is split into 90,000 units of land—or “digital assets,” which they call “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs.

Does anyone else have a headache yet?

To enter this virtual world, you create your own avatar. You can name the avatar, and dress it up with outfits you buy with mana. Then, you, as the avatar, can stroll through Decentraland and go into stores, and you don’t even have to wear a mask.

I’m going to call my avatar “Frank.” He’ll look just like the cartoon on this page, dressed in the same suit from 20 years ago, so I don’t have to spend all my mana on clothes.

I’m imagining myself in the Atari casino now. I won a bucketload of mana at the Space Invaders table, and now, I’m heading over to the Asteroids table.

I don’t like the looks of the Asteroids dealer. I think he just palmed a couple of mana.

I just finished dinner at the Atari Virtual Buffet, but somehow, I’m still hungry. If I leave Decentraland to get a non-virtual tuna sandwich, will my mana still be there when I get back?

For that matter, how long do people spend exploring these virtual worlds spending their cryptocurrency? I feel I’m behind the times. I’m still buying food and clothes with credit cards and cash, like some loser.

I think I’ll return to the real, physical world, where there are now zombies in two former Atlantic City casinos. Seriously. There’s a Netflix film in production called Army of the Dead, set to premiere May 21. For the “set,” they placed actual slots and tables on the former casino floors at the Showboat Hotel and the shuttered Atlantic Club casino.

The film depicts zombies in Las Vegas. According to a film synopsis, “Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.”

So, it’s like Ocean’s Eleven, only George Clooney and Brad Pitt have to dodge zombies, in addition to Andy Garcia. (Or if you prefer, Sinatra and Sammy have to look out for zombies, in addition to Cesar Romero.)

I’m glad they’re resurrecting the Showboat and Atlantic Club casino floors. I spent a lot of time at both of those places back in the day. (I would normally have to be cast as one of the zombies.) Looking back on the final days of the Atlantic Club, I can see where that place would fit in perfectly as a post-zombie-apocalypse location. The George Clooney character could use bare wiring that was hanging from the ceiling to catch the zombies before, you know, blowing their heads off.

But as I understand it, the Netflix production will depict these casino floors not as Atlantic City casinos, but as modern Las Vegas gambling houses. Do you think the zombies will have to wear masks? Will they get comped? Will they have the buffets open, and if so, will zombies be allowed in? I wonder if they’re going to convert the casinos into non-fungible tokens.

In any event, I hope the heist lands George Clooney a ton of mana.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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