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The Great Online Game with Packy McCormick

By Superteam

Published on 2021-06-28

Discover how the internet has transformed careers into a global game with exponential upside. Learn how to play and win in the new digital economy.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

The Great Online Game: How Crypto and Web3 are Reshaping Careers and Opportunities

In a fascinating discussion on SuperPump, hosts Tanmay and Akshay sit down with Packy McCormick, the author of the popular newsletter Not Boring, to explore his groundbreaking essay "The Great Online Game." This conversation delves into how the internet has transformed our world into a vast, interconnected game where anyone can participate and potentially reap significant rewards. As we navigate this new landscape, understanding the rules and strategies of this game becomes increasingly crucial for personal and professional success.

What is the Great Online Game?

The Great Online Game is a concept introduced by Packy McCormick that frames our online interactions and digital pursuits as a massive, interconnected video game. McCormick defines it as "an infinite video game that plays out constantly across the internet." This game encompasses everything from social media engagement to freelance work, entrepreneurship, and even cryptocurrency trading.

At its core, the Great Online Game is about leveraging the internet's vast network of opportunities to create value, build relationships, and unlock new possibilities. Unlike traditional career paths, this game allows players to constantly evolve their roles and pursue multiple interests simultaneously. As McCormick explains:

"When people ask me my title, I don't have a good answer. Writer? Founder? Investor? Some guy with a newsletter? They all fit, and I'm sure I'll add more over time. Playing the Game is about having fun and opening doors that you didn't even know existed."

Why Call it a Game?

McCormick's decision to frame these online interactions as a game stems from an insightful tweet by Nick Milanovich, which highlighted the absurdity of modern work:

"Sometimes it's weird to remember that we're all effectively competing to hit the right keys on our keyboards in the right order and if we do that for long enough then we get to buy a house."

This observation, combined with the technical definition of a video game as "a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen," led McCormick to draw parallels between our digital lives and video games.

The Four Elements of Successful Game Design

To further illustrate the game-like nature of our online activities, McCormick references Josh Buckley's discussion of the four elements of successful game design:

  1. Frequent feedback loops
  2. Variable outcomes
  3. A sense of control
  4. Connection to a metagame

These elements are present in our online interactions, from the immediate feedback of social media likes to the variable outcomes of our digital efforts and the sense of control we have over our online presence. Importantly, the connection to a metagame - where our online actions have real-world consequences - adds a powerful dimension to the Great Online Game.

Playing the Game: Strategies for Success

McCormick emphasizes that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to playing the Great Online Game. However, he offers several key strategies for success:

  1. Find your niche: Identify the topics or areas you're most passionate about and seek out communities of like-minded individuals.

  2. Add value: Contribute meaningfully to conversations and communities rather than simply seeking attention or followers.

  3. Embrace iteration: Use the rapid feedback loops of online platforms to refine your approach and improve your skills.

  4. Be authentic: Focus on expressing your genuine interests and talents rather than trying to game the system for quick wins.

  5. Stay curious: Remain open to new opportunities and connections as you navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape.

The Importance of Pseudonyms and Risk Management

While the Great Online Game offers tremendous opportunities, it's not without risks. McCormick acknowledges the potential for "cancellation" or negative consequences from online actions. To mitigate these risks, he suggests considering the use of pseudonyms, especially for those exploring more controversial or experimental areas of the game.

The Role of Crypto in Supercharging the Game

One of the most exciting developments in the Great Online Game is the integration of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. McCormick sees crypto as "native tokens for the great online game," providing a seamless way to reward participation and value creation across the internet.

The introduction of crypto adds several powerful dynamics to the game:

  1. Global accessibility: Crypto enables truly borderless participation in the digital economy.

  2. Immediate value transfer: Players can be rewarded instantly for their contributions without traditional financial intermediaries.

  3. New organizational structures: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) allow for novel forms of collaboration and value distribution.

  4. Increased liquidity of skills and contributions: Crypto makes it easier to monetize niche skills and micro-contributions.

McCormick provides a compelling example of how crypto enhances the game:

"I turned one of my posts into an NFT that I sold and then split the proceeds with all of the people whose work I linked in the piece. So without them agreeing to be involved in the piece, without us talking about it ahead of time, like all of a sudden just because they've put something out there, they're making money."

The Changing Landscape of Work and Institutions

The rise of the Great Online Game is reshaping traditional notions of work and challenging established institutions. McCormick points out that individuals now have unprecedented opportunities to create value and build careers outside of traditional corporate structures.

This shift is particularly evident in the growing tension between individuals and institutions. McCormick notes:

"It'll be interesting to see how that happens over time as well because I think it's going to have to be this collaboration between the two."

As individuals gain more power and autonomy through the Great Online Game, institutions are forced to adapt. Some, like the city of Miami under Mayor Francis Suarez, are embracing the change and actively participating in the game to attract talent and investment.

The Democratization of Opportunity

One of the most profound implications of the Great Online Game is the democratization of opportunity. McCormick emphasizes that the game is open to anyone with internet access, regardless of their location or background. This levels the playing field and allows talented individuals from anywhere in the world to compete and succeed.

The hosts of SuperPump highlight this democratization, noting that they interview players of the Great Online Game who are achieving remarkable success from non-metropolitan areas:

"We interview them once a week on the podcast, and I'm just like, I have an ear-to-ear grin every time I talk to them because they haven't even played the other game. They're just native, and they're like 22, and they have, you know, 10 billion dollars of value locked in something that they built at home."

The Importance of Community and Cooperation

While the Great Online Game might seem to encourage individualism, McCormick argues that it actually rewards community and cooperation over pure competition. He explains:

"I think it's a lot easier for people to coordinate and cooperate with each other than it is for companies to coordinate."

This dynamic allows for the formation of "online super teams" - groups of individuals with diverse skills coming together to tackle projects and create value in ways that traditional organizations struggle to match. The flexibility and speed of these collaborations give players of the Great Online Game a significant advantage.

The Role of Creativity and Authenticity

Success in the Great Online Game often comes from embracing creativity and authenticity. McCormick encourages players to lean into their unique interests and perspectives, even if they seem niche. He notes that the internet's vast scale means there's likely an audience for even the most specialized topics:

"There's so many communities that seem like there's probably six people in the world who are interested in that, and then there's like and then there's like 10 million people in the world who are interested in that thing."

By authentically engaging with these communities and contributing value, players can build strong networks and unlock opportunities that may not be visible in more traditional career paths.

The Challenges of Playing the Game

While the Great Online Game offers exciting possibilities, it's not without its challenges. McCormick acknowledges that the game can be all-consuming and potentially lead to burnout if not managed carefully. He admits to struggling with maintaining focus and balance himself:

"I'm a bad person to ask this question to because I just kind of lean into the entropy and have given up kind of on saying like, you know, this is my focus, and I'm going to Pomodoro today and really just focus on it."

Players of the game must learn to manage their time and energy effectively, setting boundaries where necessary to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the constant stream of opportunities and information.

The Impact on Traditional Institutions

The rise of the Great Online Game is putting pressure on traditional institutions to adapt. McCormick points out that established companies and organizations are being forced to reconsider their structures and value propositions in light of the new opportunities available to individuals.

This shift is particularly evident in the media landscape, where individual creators are competing directly with established publications. McCormick notes:

"I like to frame it as like, similarly in the old days of the media, right, there was, you know, Rupert Murdoch, right, with all these distribution channels. So today, I think of my YouTube earnings as I am eating into the profit pool of Rupert Murdoch."

This democratization of media creation and distribution is just one example of how the Great Online Game is reshaping entire industries.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence

As the Great Online Game evolves, artificial intelligence is likely to play an increasingly important role. McCormick speculates that AI could enhance our ability to track and reward individual contributions more accurately:

"As AI gets better and it's easier to track people's actual contributions, like there's something maybe a little dystopian about that for sure, but there's also something great that like, you know, you can't just get a job through politics and hold it forever and be rewarded for that."

This increased transparency and meritocracy could further level the playing field and reward those who consistently add value to their communities and networks.

The Future of Work and Value Creation

The Great Online Game represents a fundamental shift in how we think about work, value creation, and personal fulfillment. As traditional career paths become less relevant and the barriers to entry for entrepreneurship and creative pursuits continue to fall, more people will likely find themselves playing the game, whether they realize it or not.

McCormick envisions a future where individuals have unprecedented agency in shaping their careers and lives:

"Playing the Game is about having fun and opening doors that you didn't even know existed. It's a lot of work, but it's fun work, with exponential upside and compounding returns."

As the game continues to evolve, those who understand its dynamics and learn to play effectively will be well-positioned to thrive in the new digital economy.

Embracing the Game: Advice for New Players

For those just starting to engage with the Great Online Game, McCormick offers some valuable advice:

  1. Start small: Don't feel pressured to build a massive following overnight. Focus on making meaningful connections and contributions within your chosen niche.

  2. Be consistent: Regular engagement and content creation help build momentum and attract opportunities over time.

  3. Embrace failure: The low cost of failure in the digital world means you can experiment freely and learn from your mistakes without severe consequences.

  4. Stay curious: Continuously explore new platforms, technologies, and communities to expand your understanding of the game.

  5. Build in public: Share your journey and learnings with others, as this transparency can attract collaborators and supporters.

The Ethical Considerations of the Game

As the Great Online Game becomes more pervasive, it's important to consider its ethical implications. While the game offers tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth, it also raises questions about privacy, mental health, and the potential for exploitation.

Players must navigate these challenges thoughtfully, considering the long-term consequences of their actions and the impact on their well-being and relationships. As McCormick notes, it's crucial to find a balance between engaging with the game and maintaining a healthy offline life.

The Role of Education in Preparing for the Game

Traditional education systems may struggle to keep pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of the Great Online Game. As such, there's a growing need for new forms of learning and skill development that are more aligned with the realities of the digital economy.

Platforms like Pesto Tech, which McCormick mentions as an investment, are emerging to fill this gap by providing specialized training and connections for engineers looking to work with global companies. As the game continues to evolve, we can expect to see more innovative educational models designed to equip players with the skills and mindset needed to succeed.

The Importance of Adaptability and Lifelong Learning

One of the key takeaways from McCormick's insights is the critical importance of adaptability and lifelong learning in the Great Online Game. The rapid pace of technological change and the constantly shifting landscape of opportunities mean that players must be willing to continuously update their skills and perspectives.

This emphasis on adaptability is a stark contrast to traditional career paths, where individuals might expect to rely on a relatively stable set of skills throughout their working lives. In the Great Online Game, the ability to quickly learn and apply new knowledge is often more valuable than deep expertise in a single area.

The Power of Network Effects in the Game

Another crucial aspect of the Great Online Game is the power of network effects. As players build their networks and engage with various communities, they create compounding value that can lead to exponential growth in opportunities and influence.

McCormick's own journey with his newsletter Not Boring is a prime example of this dynamic. By consistently producing valuable content and engaging with his audience, he has built a powerful platform that attracts opportunities across writing, investing, and beyond.

The Intersection of Online and Offline Worlds

While the Great Online Game primarily plays out in digital spaces, its impacts are increasingly bleeding into the physical world. From NFTs representing real-world assets to crypto-powered local economies, the line between online and offline is becoming increasingly blurred.

This convergence presents both opportunities and challenges for players of the game. Those who can effectively bridge the gap between digital and physical realms may find themselves uniquely positioned to create value and drive innovation.

The Role of Governance in the Great Online Game

As the game continues to evolve and grow in importance, questions of governance and rule-setting become increasingly relevant. Who decides the rules of the game, and how can they be enforced in a decentralized, global context?

Blockchain technology and DAOs offer potential solutions to these challenges, allowing for more transparent and participatory forms of governance. However, these systems are still in their infancy, and players of the game will need to actively engage in shaping the governance structures that will guide its future development.

The Psychological Impact of Playing the Game

Engaging deeply with the Great Online Game can have significant psychological impacts on players. The constant feedback loops, variable rewards, and potential for rapid success or failure can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

Players must be mindful of their mental health and well-being as they navigate the game. Setting boundaries, practicing digital detox, and maintaining strong offline relationships are crucial strategies for long-term success and fulfillment in the game.

The Evolving Nature of Success in the Game

As the Great Online Game continues to develop, our definitions of success within it are likely to evolve as well. Traditional metrics like wealth or job titles may become less relevant as players seek more holistic forms of fulfillment and impact.

McCormick's own journey illustrates this shift, as he has found success not through a conventional career path but by following his curiosity and building a unique combination of skills and interests. As more people embrace the game, we may see a broader redefinition of what it means to live a successful and meaningful life in the digital age.

The Global Impact of the Great Online Game

While the discussion focuses primarily on the implications for individuals and businesses, it's important to consider the broader global impact of the Great Online Game. As more people from diverse backgrounds gain access to the game, we could see a significant redistribution of opportunities and wealth on a global scale.

This democratization of opportunity has the potential to drive innovation, reduce global inequality, and create new solutions to pressing global challenges. However, it also raises questions about digital divide and ensuring that the benefits of the game are accessible to all.

Conclusion: Embracing the Great Online Game

As we conclude our exploration of Packy McCormick's Great Online Game concept, it's clear that we're witnessing a fundamental shift in how we approach work, creativity, and value creation in the digital age. The game offers unprecedented opportunities for those willing to engage with it thoughtfully and persistently.

While the game presents challenges and potential pitfalls, its ability to unlock human potential and create new forms of collaboration is truly exciting. As McCormick puts it:

"Go play."

By embracing the Great Online Game with curiosity, authenticity, and a willingness to learn, individuals can position themselves to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital economy. As the game continues to develop, particularly with the integration of cryptocurrencies and web3 technologies, we can expect to see even more innovative and impactful ways of creating value and building communities online.

The future belongs to those who learn to play the game effectively, leveraging its unique dynamics to create opportunities for themselves and others. As we move forward, it will be fascinating to see how the Great Online Game continues to reshape our world and open up new possibilities for human creativity and collaboration.

Facts + Figures

  • The Great Online Game is defined as "an infinite video game that plays out constantly across the internet"
  • There are an estimated 300 million monthly active users on Twitter
  • Packy McCormick's newsletter Not Boring has 55,000 subscribers
  • The player empowerment movement in the NBA began after 1975 when free agency was introduced
  • Pesto Tech is a talent marketplace focused on connecting Indian engineers with global companies
  • Miami recently hosted the Bitcoin conference and Miami Tech Week
  • The definition of a video game is "a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen"
  • The four elements of successful game design according to Josh Buckley are: frequent feedback loops, variable outcomes, a sense of control, and connection to a metagame
  • McCormick turned one of his posts into an NFT and split the proceeds with people he linked to in the piece
  • Traditional publishing industry contracts may limit writers' ability to monetize their work outside of their primary outlet
  • The cost of failure for entrepreneurs is lower than ever due to accessible tools and platforms
  • Artificial intelligence is expected to play an increasing role in tracking and rewarding contributions in the online game
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are emerging as new forms of online collaboration and value distribution
  • The Great Online Game is reshaping traditional notions of work and challenging established institutions

Questions Answered

What is the Great Online Game?

The Great Online Game is a concept introduced by Packy McCormick that frames our online interactions and digital pursuits as a massive, interconnected video game. It encompasses everything from social media engagement to freelance work, entrepreneurship, and cryptocurrency trading. The game is about leveraging the internet's vast network of opportunities to create value, build relationships, and unlock new possibilities in both the digital and physical worlds.

How does cryptocurrency supercharge the Great Online Game?

Cryptocurrency supercharges the Great Online Game by providing native tokens for rewarding participation and value creation across the internet. It enables global accessibility, allowing anyone to participate in the digital economy regardless of location. Crypto also facilitates immediate value transfer without traditional financial intermediaries, creates new organizational structures like DAOs, and increases the liquidity of skills and contributions. This allows for more dynamic and flexible ways of collaborating and being rewarded for online activities.

What are the four elements of successful game design in the context of the Great Online Game?

The four elements of successful game design in the context of the Great Online Game are: 1) Frequent feedback loops, which allow players to quickly learn and iterate on their actions. 2) Variable outcomes, which keep the game interesting and unpredictable. 3) A sense of control, giving players agency over their actions and outcomes. 4) Connection to a metagame, where online actions have real-world consequences. These elements contribute to making online interactions engaging and potentially rewarding in both digital and physical realms.

How is the Great Online Game changing traditional career paths?

The Great Online Game is fundamentally changing traditional career paths by offering more flexible and diverse ways to create value and build a career. It allows individuals to pursue multiple interests simultaneously, pivot quickly between different roles or industries, and build unique combinations of skills. This shift challenges the notion of linear career progression within a single company or industry, instead emphasizing adaptability, continuous learning, and the ability to leverage online networks and platforms to create opportunities.

What advice does Packy McCormick give for playing the Great Online Game?

Packy McCormick advises players of the Great Online Game to start by finding their niche and the topics they're most passionate about. He encourages adding value to conversations and communities rather than simply seeking attention. McCormick emphasizes the importance of embracing iteration, using feedback to refine one's approach and skills. He also stresses the need for authenticity, focusing on expressing genuine interests and talents. Finally, he advises staying curious and open to new opportunities as the digital landscape continues to evolve.

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