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Women in the Metaverse: Ekin Eriş of Infinite Arcade

Ekin has established her role as a frontrunner in the blockchain gaming space.

Ekin Eriş — one of the Core Contributors of blockchain gaming platform Infinite Arcade — has ambitious plans to influence wider gaming audiences, help form greater communities for casual gamers and serve as a frontrunner in the Web3 community.

As part of our ongoing series, we recently sat down with Ekin to discuss her entry into the blockchain gaming industry, her plans to leverage Infinite Arcade as a frontrunner in the Web3 and gaming spaces and how she hopes to see the internet become more equitable and diverse, with greater opportunities for women in gaming and tech.

Beginnings

Ekin started her roots in the sciences, but eventually shifted her focus towards marketing and business strategy. After subsequent ventures in e-commerce and travel, she eventually landed a position in the adtech field. 

The pandemic unfortunately forced her previous company to shut down, right before she was introduced to the leadership team at Coda — a reputable UK-based mobile games publishing platform. It was here where she got started in the gaming space, quickly helping the company expand their growth operations and tech team and ultimately scaling their overall growth strategy. She also participated in the early stage of their pipeline, helping their team find new ideas for games, creative briefs and newly-tested concepts.

More recently, the Coda team has launched their first Web3 project — Infinite Arcade. The platform currently has plans to double the size of its team within the next year and see more talent come to the fore.

About Infinite Arcade

Infinite Arcade is a new gaming ecosystem where players can tap into a portfolio of games — ranging from puzzle games, runner games and action games (to name a few). In all, players have the opportunity to play and earn across a wide portfolio of choices throughout the greater ecosystem. Players can also add value to each game through any NFTs they own.

From a creator and game developer’s perspective, Ekin says that their team has seen a great deal of interest from casual game studios. Since joining Coda, she’s had access to over 15,000 studios within their greater network — giving her greater insight on where the sector is going and what game developers are working towards. 

Ekin claims that there is a burgeoning interest from the creator community to enter the Web3 space. However, she also notes a conundrum — that smaller studios often don’t have the right amount of expertise or funds to get their projects off the ground. “It’s really hard to kickstart a community from the ground-up, with design and economy around it — and this also comes up with game mechanics.”

In response, she hopes that Infinite Arcade’s model can offer developers an easier way to onboard their existing games, in addition to providing a way for them to bring their blockchain games into the Web3 world without hassle. To achieve this, their team offers easy implementation of their SDK into their games — as well as a platform where NFTs will also be available to access within their play-to-earn mechanics.

“They don’t have to design the economy or think through how the in-game mechanics work,” Ekin explains. “We cover all of that.”

Infinite Arcade is also building a design that aims to encompass the creator’s space, for both developers and NFT artists. This framework will be open to both third-party blockchain projects and NFT collections. With this, she’s also leveraging Infinite Arcade’s business model to build a better community within Web3 — particularly a community where players are able to interact one-on-one with game developers who create within the space. 

Helping gamers embrace blockchain

It’s a known fact that gamers have struggled to accept blockchain. In fact, ahead of the 2022 Game Developers Conference, 72% of surveyed game developers claimed that their studios had little-to-no interest in cryptocurrency as a form of payment — while 70% of respondents claimed that they also weren’t interested in NFTs. However, despite current frictions between the two spaces, Ekin remains optimistic about this “once in a lifetime change” and asserts that we will one day see these worlds come together.

“It’s quite obvious that some people are resistant to change in general and Web3 is a huge shift from what we’ve been living through in our generation,” she remarks. “So it’s quite understandable for some people to be completely against it or even take a neutral stance.”

When it comes to Web3 and blockchain gaming, she raises that we can see that the proof of concept works: “We can see this in successful games like Axie Infinity and The Sandbox — where there are 2 million play-to-earn players already. So there is a slow and steady adoption that’s happening right now.”

Ekin aspires to place Infinite Arcade into the front row of this shift. By the end of the year, she hopes that there will be up to 200 games in the system — along with millions of existing casual gamers at their helm. “It’s in these little areas where we will implement these cues for casual gamers to get exposed to the systems and get to see the adoption. Then, slowly people will be more open to interacting with NFTs and digital tokens.”

With the right talent and technology in place, Ekin also claims that Infinite Arcade will be well-equipped to be one of the pioneers of gaming within the blockchain space. Providing an easier way for gaming studios to adapt their games to blockchain technology will thereby allow them to gain better tokenomics and also interact more easily with their users. Also, since games are offered to multiple players, there is utility that can be used across their greater portfolio for NFTs.

A better future for women in gaming

Ekin is optimistic that we will one day see more women become interested in working for gaming companies, in addition to seeing more job opportunities appear within the industry as it grows. In Turkey, where she’s based, she’s seen large communities of gaming and female talent start to proliferate. For example, she notes new study tracks opening in universities — where women can now “invest in themselves earlier on in their careers.”

When speaking about what can effectively drive this change, she’s a firm believer that women in gaming will be the ones to shift these dynamics. “Even if we don’t see women in leadership positions now, a lot of them are entering the space with incredible talent to offer — and I believe we will one day see them enter those higher rank positions in the future.”

Her advice? She encourages all women in the Web3 space to “be active in their community, talk about their experiences, be vulnerable, actively seek new talent and create awareness within their leadership teams on gender equality.”

Envisioning a more equitable Web3

It’s a harsh fact that most gaming industries are still male-dominated (as of 2020, a reported 70% of people who work in the UK games industry were men). Ekin also makes note of these skewed numbers. She hopes to lead by example, be active within the gaming community and attract new talent within the space as early as possible.

“There are a lot of incredible women out there who are not happy with their current roles and who want to change career paths,” she says. “Web3 overall would benefit from these talents — especially women who have backgrounds in digital industries.”

At the end of the day, she believes that there will one day be a “Web3 version of anything” that we’re seeing in the digital space right now — ultimately making it more equitable and ripe for more opportunities for women in tech. She also claims that the time to invest in this goal is now, given that the space is still at a critical developing stage — something that currently makes it especially creative and diverse at this point in the timeline. “This makes it a good building block for the future, when there will be more talent and adoption coming into the space.”

Rather than wide-scope ideas and envisioning a concept where everyone will live inside a metaverse space, she’s focused on more realistic and short-to-mid term improvements — such as the concept of virtual worlds that can be accessed through mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) — as these mediums are more widely accessible to mass audiences worldwide.

A shift towards greater blockchain adoption

Will we one day see gamers become more receptive to blockchain gaming? 

Ekin believes that the biggest change will come when mass gaming audiences enter the Web3 space. Taking into account a current estimated number of 3 billion gamers globally, she asserts that when this happens, blockchain gaming will no longer be fully dependent on the play-to-earn aspect. While there will be players with earning as their main motivation, there will also be other players who will be attracted to projects simply due to the quality of the experience — “hopefully to the extent where they want to invest in these games without expecting a short term warranty, because the economies of the play-to-earn model [will be] dependent on players who see this as a daily job.”

Ekin says she hopes to see the gaming industry become better equipped to take on that challenge and become better poised to influence mass audiences to make these changes. She continues: “The metaverse concept has been existing in games for years now, so it’s not a new idea for gamers in that space — they’re used to being in a world where assets are traded.”

Moreover, she adds that this shift “will allow projects to have more sustainable economies, because they will be balancing forces. That will drive hyper-growth, because that will be the point where we will have the mass adoption. That’s going to be an exciting time — and I’m looking forward to it.”

She also comments about her hope to see greater interoperability in Web3 spaces — where assets can be moved from one world to another in a seamless way and where they’ll still retain their value. This, she adds, should be coupled with more collaboration between blockchain projects. She notes how blockchain projects are currently more siloed, but that one day she believes we will see more collaboration within the space, with more utility for asset owners and new value flows.

Lastly, Ekin also says she is excited to see more worlds form their own digital economies with their tokens and NFTs, hoping that they’ll offer a wide range of solutions — from entertainment and media to gaming to education and fashion. “There are obviously projects that have established some or most of these aspects, but the experience itself is in its early stages — whether that’s in the quality of the game or the social experiences. There’s room for improvement and I’m very interested in seeing that.”

What’s next?

Going forward, Ekin hopes to collaborate with existing gaming and Web3 projects. She notes that the capability for people to purchase NFTs from other projects and then transfer them into Infinite Arcade “will add more opportunities and value for asset owners.”

She’s also looking forward to seeing how new projects will come into the Web3 space — such as where there may be areas to merge the sectors of gaming and education. “It’s a very exciting time right now,” she says, “because with the pandemic, we’ve seen that the education of anything can be accessible through the internet.” In light of this, she notes the likelihood that we will see a combining of these worlds — which will hopefully lead to many more projects and visions. In all, she’s thrilled to see how Web3 will solve these issues over time.

Infinite Arcade will also be launching its own token — $TIC (Token of Infinite Choice) this upcoming May.

To check out Infinite Arcade’s current lineup of games — including their Gamer NFT Genesis Collection, which will go on sale March 30th — be sure to visit their website and Twitter page to learn more and get the latest updates. For the latest news and sneak peeks, users can also join their community on Discord.

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