One of the (many) exciting aspects to a distributed and decentralized virtual reality world is thinking about how you could get people interested in using such a system, and how to have them voluntarily stay and keep coming back. How could you technically achieve this gigantic task without any upfront payments or central servers?

Aligning incentives may be one way to do that and I'd like to go through some of that reasoning here. It's not complete by any stretch, and any feedback would be welcome.

The central idea presented draws on the Sanctuary technical overview written by Steve Dekorte a few days ago. You can read it [here].


Firstly we need to figure out what is important to the VR world as well as what needs to happen to keep it running at a usable level. I had a think and boiled it down to two main things:

1. Virtual space
2. Bandwidth sharing

(This is based on the massive assumption that all the technical challenges are overcome first).

You have virtual space, which is the world in which the users will inhabit. In this instance I'm talking about a single VR world, instead of a platform that allows people to create their own worlds. This is because if it is all run on the same backend, then you get the network effect benefits.

If everyone is sharing this world, then there needs to be some kind of system which encourages good behavior and mitigates bullshit nonesense like garish buildings, squatting and digital vandalism.

The next thing is bandwidth. A truly distributed VR world means that users will have to connect with each other to interact. It could be directly, or indirectly, through lots of other users. The point is that this is absolutely crucial to any of this working. The better connected the entire network, then potentially you have lower latency and more dynamism. (Also note that a lot of our bandwidth problems we have today may not be around in the future.)


The idea is to marry those two points of virtual space and bandwidth in such a way that users can be rewarded with real cryptocurrency in exchange for helping run the system.

Like Dekorte mentioned the other day, you could have a grid system whereby every piece of digital space is available for purchase. It could be much like Namecoin in that you have to buy your domain (in both senses of the word). This first barrier of actually having to put money up to build you're own space should stop spammers from taking up all the unused space right away.

Added to that, you could have a grace period for unused land where other users would be able to also bid on the space. This could lead to interesting things since VR space is infinite, you could have users band together and set up their own digital cities far away from the original base in order to buy cheaper, much like in the real world. Also like in the real world, you'd open up entirely new private property markets in which property owners who have interesting buildings or valuable locations could sell privately (with bitcoin) to the highest bidder.

Another similarity to Namecoin is that you could introduce a renewal fee, so every so often (maybe once a year) you have to pay a fee to renew your space. If you fail to do so, your record is wiped from the blockchain and the space is available again. This serves as a good way to verify you are still active and could stop hoarders.

Now the interesting part is where all those Bitcoins would go. You could set up some kind of multisig escrow system that no one person or group can control, and these would be funds for the entire system. They'd be paid out in set intervals in a sort of lottery to the users who share the most bandwidth with the most users, so those who help run the system (and increase the experience for everyone) would be rewarded. The (significant) challenge here would be verifying this.