It goes without saying that the world of digital games continues to garner massive global interest and popularity.  To add to this excitement, we are now seeing the emergence of new online platforms that are forging a fresh set of intersection between cryptocurrency and gaming.

Gamerholic Founder Anari Sengbe

Gamerholic Founder Anari Sengbe

One of the most popular games in this space is Gamerholic, the brainchild of ProducTank co-founder Anari Sengbe. Gamerholic.com is a San Francisco-based competitive gaming platform formed on the premise that competition is a normal part of gaming – where people are naturally inclined to want to beat a computer, friend or someone they don’t even know in another part of the world. Gamerholic, according to Sengbe, simply fuels this natural competitive drive with prize incentives versus points or recognition boards.

Sengbe says that the genesis of Gamerholic started as a normal cash gaming platform where enthusiasts engaged in games on Ibox’s Fifa, Madden and others. In 2013, he moved to San Francisco and began to learn about Bitcoin during its early stages. This lead to the idea of accepting it for his site – a move that positively shifted his business fortunes due to Bitcoin’s global presence.

Today Gamerholic, one of the first gaming site to accept bitcoin, has built a substantial trove of users worldwide.

In a recent move expected to further Gamerholic’s popularity, the site just added a Steemit-like social media platform for gamers where user posts earn “Respeck.”

Here’s a brief synopsis of how it works: On Gamerholic, a person posts content, and then someone else gives that content ‘Respek’ (Gamerholic’s version of the like button). The more Respeck a post earns, the greater the money it receives in the form of GamerholicCoins. A person can also earn from the available rewards pot, by offering ‘Respek’ to content.

The amount a person earns is based upon their Gamerholic Power Level (GPL). The higher their GPL, the more they earn. The GamerholicCoin can then either be traded in for bitcoin or used to buy skins or access the gamerholic account network of games soon to be added to the platform.

In addition, gamers or speculators can donate coins to the available rewards pot to maintain the system.

Below we had a chance to interview Sengbe about Gamerholic’s history and future trajectory. So press play! Game On!

A little about your life journey and the inspiration behind Gamerholic?

“I grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At age 10 I came to the U.S.. I credit the marketplace scene in Freetown for my entrepreneurial desires – be it the fisherman who hoped to sell his most recent catch or the rows of vendors selling everything from mangos to full grown goats and sheep.

Many of us are part of the generation that can actually remember the introduction of the internet. I can remember when you could first play Playstation online. Football was my thing, so Madden battles with friends were frequent. With the internet, you didn’t need to go over to your friend’s house anymore, you could just play them online.

The $10 we use to play for in person translated to playing for $10 in online games. My entrepreneurial instincts kicked in as I felt that others would want to play for money online as well.”

What sort of early startup lessons did you discover?

[Laughter]What we didn’t anticipate were chargebacks. Some gamers would play a $100 game, pull the plug when their opponent was about to kick the game-winning field goal and blame some storm, or just call their bank and claim a false transaction.

And how did you address this issue?

Due to the chargebacks problem I sought a solution and discovered bitcoin. While bitcoin is AWESOME, the 10 minute block times simply wouldn’t work for gaming. So I created GamerholicCoin and transitioned the platform to blockchain gaming platform. It launched in 2014 and is the first gaming cryptocurrency.

The GamerholicCoin: What is it and how is it’s value derived?

Gamerholic is SHA-256 PoW/PoS hybrid with a 60 second block time. It’s a coin perfect for gaming. We elected not to stray too far from the original bitcoin blockchain allowing those who’s miners are now useless for bitcoin to mine Gamerholic.

The value of the coin is derived from the value of items in a video game. In theory there should always be an item of extreme desire in some video game. It could be a one of a kind sword or a valuable card or a jacket for your avatar.

The core feature of the platform is our content appreciation model. Adding content allows one to earn Gamerholic – there’s no need to buy Gamerholic or bitcoin.

And how does it work?

There’s a pot of available rewards, let’s say 50,000 coins are in the available rewards pot. Gamers who contribute content to the platform can earn from this pot of rewards. Think of it like a facebook post. You post content on facebook, someone likes your content, you feel good.

How does the blockchain fit in with all of this?

We moved gaming transactions to the blockchain. No more useless points and badges… now your points have real value. Your badge becomes a unique blockchain tracked asset that can be sold to other gamers at a profit.

This gets us into the realm of hyper-monetization for gaming. Every single action in a game can now be monetized. Imagine playing a mobile game and just as soon as you are able to take down the villain in the game, that villain disappears and pops up in another game. Sure it may drive the gamer crazy but it’s now just as challenging to go find that villain as long as the incentive for doing so remains profitable.

And the Gamerholic Educational Games?

Gamerholic also offers a different motivation for education games. Score 50 points in this math game and you get $0.50 Gamerholic. In our wildest of ideas, this can become the new allowance for young people and blockchain makes that possible.

So in general, what makes Gamerholic unique from others gaming projects that have integrated cryptocurrency and the blockchain?

Well for starters, we were the 1st gaming cryptocurrency. Our insights allow us to do things a little different with a full understanding the potential we hold. For example,  Gamerholic solves bitcoin’s biggest problem, which is… how do you get bitcoins in the hands of a young person in Sierra Leone? You do so through gaming.

Second, we understand the importance women play in the gaming ecosystem and ultimately in the bitcoin ecosystem. We are likely the only gaming cryptocurrency, with a product targeting women. That product is our Grabbit app. Using Grabbit, you can win coupons and gift cards from local businesses and events. Think of it as a more fun Groupon where one can compete against other locals for a 25% discounts to spa’s, nail salons, hair stylists etc.

Lastly, we don’t make video games. Our focus is on solving the engagement, discovery, and monetization pain points game developers experience. Right now game developers pay $3 per download. By using our rewards API, a game developer can say download our game, score 100 points and you get 2 Gamerholic coins. Depending on the price of the coin at the exchange, this could cost the developers pennies compared to the $3 they pay with no blockchain services.

What’s your working relationship with game developers like?

Game developers are a tough bunch. They invest a LOT of time into their vision leaving little room to educate themselves on new technologies. Game developers are also a trend community, there’s not currently a trend of gaming blockchain products. There’s also a variance in motivation. An IOS game developer is not motivated to integrate crypto into their game. Their app could be taken down from the app store… no one will risk their hard work for that outcome.

What new insights have you unearthed through your engagement with the Gamerholic community?

Young adults understand cryptocurrency better than adults. Young adults outside of America, desire crypto currency more than young adults in America. Even if you’ve never advertised in Saudi Arabia, Iran or the Philippines… they will find your platform. As a cryptocurrency startup, you become a global startup without realizing it.

What emerging trends in the gaming world are you hoping to capitalize on in 2017?  

I believe that casino games and cryptocurrency will hook up mightily in 2017. Talk about a match made in heaven. While I don’t like that we won’t be able to control the mechanics of the casino games to limit how much or how quickly a user can lose their Gamerholic, it’s clear that this segment of crypto gaming is growing faster than any other.

Also, gaming in the African continent is also growing at a rapid pace with Nigeria leading the way. Interestingly the political environment for various countries will play a strong part in our decision making. Right now is a great time for crypto gaming in India for example. It’s just a matter of time before you see the same flash crypto education in other parts of the world.

What is your long-term vision and greatest hope for your platform?

My greatest hope is that Gamerholic gets bitcoin into the hands of those who truly need it with no hurdles. I spent many years barefoot in Sierra Leone a country with constant 95+ degree heat. I understand being hungry and having no means to get capital. At times I get a  bit frustrated at the heavy focus on the price of bitcoin and the euro view of needed products, when the core goodness of this technology isn’t supposed to have those focuses this early.

2017 will see a few more platforms come about that lower the barrier of entry into bitcoin, we may see a future where no one has to buy bitcoin. You simply earn bitcoin for the content (value) you provide to the global web. It’s my entrepreneurial hope, that Gamerholic plays an immense role in pioneering this awesome new future.