Using Animal Crossing to Explain Aelf

Using Animal Crossing to Explain Aelf

By Raye Keslensky | lastres0rt | 13 May 2020

The metaphors for cryptocurrency in Animal Crossing don't stop with Turnips!  

Greta has no idea how many of her I could buy if I sold Raymond. Of course I'm siding with Raymond. 

Over the past few weeks I've dived deeper into the online markets for Animal Crossing. These "grey markets" trade everything from DIY recipes to other villagers. They have a few extra items that have become currency of their own:

  • Nook Miles Tickets (NMT), which can be sold for 10k in the shop or used to go on island trips for other precious resources
  • Gold Nuggets (GN / 'Nugs'), which themselves can be sold for 10k, or crafted into DIYs that go for double (and sometimes 4x!) whatever resources you put into them.
  • Star Fragments (and their zodiac variants) are also used for DIY projects. They're hard to harvest because you have to wait for a meteor shower and you can only harvest so many in a single night.

In fact, sometimes when people invite you to their island for an event like a meteor shower or a rare villager? They'll ask for a "fee" in one or more of these -- much like the gas in Ether or a transaction fee elsewhere!   So, hey, I figured -- why not use Animal Crossing for something other than cracking bitcoin jokes? How about using it to explain Aelf (ELF)?  

Well...   Aelf is a couple of years old by now. For something that's supposed to be "the next big breakthrough in blockchain"? It's a little concerning from the standpoint that it's had a couple years to get its act together.


So where's the decent comparison here? Well, ELF is another new currency on the crypto market, and it claims to do a few things differently. In the end, it's another new currency that looks useful, and is also struggling with adoption.  

Fortunately, we've got a good analog for this in Animal Crossing: Stacks!  

Some common stacks, alongside the more typical player currencies in Animal Crossing. 

"Stacks" in Animal Crossing Lingo refers to however many of a single item you can fit in a single inventory slot. For the purposes of trades and currency, this is useful for being able to drop a single stack of something and run on to whatever task you're trying to do -- and often, the "stacks" involved are 30 of a given resource, like stone, clay, wood, bamboo... you get the idea.  

What's their advantage? They're cheap! These are regular harvesting items, after all. And yes, some are more valuable than others. (Iron nuggets aren't worth as much as gold, obviously, but they're still useful!) They make the trading markets accessible to people willing to part with more common resources.  

How does this compare to Aelf?  

  1. Aelf wants to be "the linux of blockchain" and be accessible to a wider marketplace.
  2. Aelf claims its smart contracts don't need an end-user to understand the rules behind these contracts. (That should speed up adoption.)
  3. Aelf charges less than other smart contract systems. (This, again, ought to make it more accessible to the masses.)

Yes, I'm ignoring the stuff about "sidechains" and "scaleability" for the moment. We'll get there. Let's focus on this "cheaper, more accessible" detail for now. After all, we WANT widespread adoption of any given currency and system to get any value out of the blasted thing, right?  

Stacks have this "cheap, accessible" thing in spades. Everyone who plays Animal Crossing will eventually find themselves with stacks of items they don't need. That said, their ubiquity is part of the problem. Unless you're a new player, you likely already have everything you need, given enough time and effort. Stacks are just another form of giving your labor value.  

Aelf, like any other cryptocurrency, gets supplied by somebody and bought by someone else. So who has the initial supply of ELF tokens?  

According to this chart, there was an ICO (though they refuse to call that) of the 1 billion ELF tokens. Furthermore, large fractions of the market have been "frozen" for several years. Over this next year, about 26% of those tokens are thawing out. That may explain why you're reading this article now. There's more liquidity in the system, and they gotta sell that coin SOMEHOW.  

How the ELF tokens were distributed. Source: 

This is where my red flags start going off a bit. If I don't see a distinction between buying Token A or Token B? The fact that one is cheaper or charges less for the transaction doesn't matter much. It only matters if I have to go out of my way to buy the new token vs. what I already have. 

Part of what gives the Animal Crossing system a lot of its power is its flexibility. If you don't have the bells, go buy some NMTs and trade in those instead. Or keep thwacking away at your island until you get some more Nugs and Stacks. If someone wants to play Cryptokitties, however? That takes ETH, and only ETH, so you better be able to buy some ETH or else you're locked out.  

... and the fact that Aelf seems to use this game and its popularity against ETH is a bit of a red herring here. The main value any of these "smart contract" dApp coins have here is if they become the underpinning for a game. Once it makes sense to buy ELF and run the system on ELF, then there's actual value in ELF.  

In other words, if you're someone who picks up coins here and there? Someone who never seems to do much with them except hold them -- like me? Aelf's value proposition isn't aimed at you.  

If you're a developer that can take advantage of the scaleability and sidechains? If you're able to make the killer app that can take advantage of the added speed and flexibility of the system? Do your homework, because if EOS and ETH don't work for you, ELF may be what you need.  

Mining Star Fragments in Animal Crossing. Someday...

Raye Keslensky
Raye Keslensky

UX Engineer, 'Last Res0rt' Cartoonist, Cyberpunk, so-called Badass. K3SLE. She/Her.


Raye paid 25 cents for her first bitcoin transaction from the side of somebody's suitcase at DEFCON 2013 and sold it for a frappe at Starbucks a few months later. She's been curious about crypto ever since!

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