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Utah Business

Crypto card games are being brought to life, and The Crypto Whales Game, developed by Southern Utah University students, is one of the first.

The Crypto Whales game is the next Monopoly

Maybe someday, when you sit down to play Monopoly with your family and friends and you land on the luxury tax space, the space will be named “gas fees,” the railroad spaces will be renamed with the top blockchains, and instead of chance cards saying “you’ve won a contest, collect $25!” they will say, “you staked your cryptocurrency, you’ll be airdropped $25!”

Two Southern Utah University students are trying to bring that future to the present, starting with their new card game, Crypto Whales. SUU senior Matthew Matheson was playing Cover your Assets with his wife’s family earlier this year when he remembers thinking, “Man, it’d be so fun seeing cryptocurrency in this game.” 

He quickly moved on the idea, bringing in classmate Shadrac Reyes, and the two got to work making it a reality. Reyes and Matheson met with another friend in January and quickly started to work out the gameplay. Since then, their idea won first place at SUU’s Opportunity Quest competition, which featured over 30 different student-led projects presented to a panel of judges. They were also one of 21 finalists for the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

Next, the students set a goal to release the game to the public by August 2022 at a likely price point of $25. They have plans for a Kickstarter campaign and say they’re open for outside investors, as they want to release more games down the line after what they hope will be a successful release of Crypto Whales this summer.

Matheson says the game is like Monopoly in that you don’t really have to understand the nuances of finance to play the game, but there will be lots of crypto terminology wrapped into it—which will hopefully be somewhat educational for people who don’t know much about cryptocurrency at the start of the game. The basics of crypto will be incorporated into 12 rounds that simulate a crypto market. Players will try to play the market by shorting or buying more crypto so that by the end of the game, they have accumulated the largest stockpile. 

The game isn’t necessarily built with education in mind, but the hope is that players will get an intro to the space through a fun, easy-to-learn game. “Our goal is to introduce the market to a simple understanding of the basics of cryptocurrency and the market,” Reyes says. That includes details from what an airdrop is to what the top cryptocurrencies are. 

Matheson and Reyes say they’ve been playing the game with people around the SUU campus, gathering feedback, and preparing to release the game to the world. “Just constant revision,” Matheson says. “But overall, I’ve been very impressed that we’ve been able to create a good product that’s simple and fun, in a little less than two months. So I think that’s a shoutout to Shad, as well as [graphic designer] Madelyn Tebbs and our team that we’ve worked so hard to develop it with.”

The card game market is booming, and therefore becoming a bit saturated, Reyes says, but he believes Crypto Whales stands out. “It’s really easy to look at ours and to say, ‘just another card game,’” he says. “There’s nothing really else like it out there, especially that does what we do in such a simplistic, easy-to-learn, fun way.”

The game features artwork by Tebbs, another SUU student, with colorful cards that feature various cryptocurrencies, from Polygon to Dogecoin.

Crypto Whales was the only project from SUU in the final 21 of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. Since winning the SUU Opportunity Quest competition, they received a lot of support from faculty and students on campus, which has about a third of the students at schools in the valley like the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University.

Matheson and Reyes say they feel some pride in representing Southern Utah University and the entire southern Utah area.

“We’re definitely going to represent the very best we can,” says Matheson. “It’s a really unique community where you receive campus-wide support. It’s been exciting to just walk around campus and students will run into us like ‘oh hey, I voted for you, super excited, good luck at the competition.’”