The holy-grail Web3 project is the organic development of online communities. These communities are not only a good indicator of the viability of a virtual platform but also a key to the development of economic and social immersion. Upland, which is a platform for players who form groups in specific geographical locations (virtual), remains a key component of the web3 industry.
This trend has been discussed theoretically by crypto’s modern-day political philosophers. In his 2022 groundbreaking book The Network State, Balaji Srinivasan describes the initial stages of Startup Societies as “online communities with aspirations of something greater”, and Network Unions as “groups capable of collective action with a purpose, coordinating its members for their mutual benefit”. It seems that some of the ‘nodes’ in the Upland metaverse may already fulfill this prerequisite.
Upland is a metaverse open-source platform that maps to real life. The company’s mission is to “build the most dynamic maker-communities through a strong entrepreneur economy that allows players, creators, developers, and brands to manufacture goods and experiences, monetize assets, and provide utility and fun to other players.” Headquartered in Silicon Valley with hubs in Las Vegas, Ukraine, and Brazil, Upland was named among Fast Company’s “Next Big Things in Tech” in 2021 and one of “22 San Francisco Startups To Watch in 2022” by Built In SF. Upland is like monopoly becoming virtual.
This directory shows the process of these community initiatives. One can see that UCN Broadcasters–players who create content–have initiated communities, with the Holliswood node in Queens, NY being one such example. Raddishhead runs the YouTube channel Upland Analysis and has been helping channel viewers to make the Queens neighborhood their own. As a community with 30% of the neighborhood built, Raddishhead has pulled his spark (building resources), and UPX in order to create the node.
Interestingly, players from specific nationalities have created “expat” communities in the Upland metaverse. Whether it’s the Canadian Uplanders’ Group node in Maple Park, Kansas City, Japan Town in Bucktown Chicago, or the Israel “Kibbutz” in Granada Hills, LA. Upland players are eager to connect with real-life fellow-nationals via the virtual world. Fresh Meadows, Queens can be an example. Led by Brazilian influencers Lucas Mucida (Upland Player of the Year), Bruno Clash, P2ECrew, Heitor Miguel and Rai Cripto, and together with Brazilian brand partners Flex Interativa and BeFly, over 50 players joined to buy properties in what is now known as “Little Brazil”. With over 300 properties minted in a “minting party,” players worked out the strategy, timing, and tried to bring a real sense of community to the process. Discord conversations revealed that the node has already begun to plan for future Brazilian flags and outdoor décor. It also plans on building a plant and showroom. The brand partners have been working together to create a Little Brazil Music Festival, which will take place in the same neighborhood as the Brazilian Day in New York.
Communities are being formed around particular interests and not geographical locations. Upland Racing League (URL), is a community that revolves around racing in Upland. The founders DAK & MASSCHEF organized seasons of racing throughout Upland with Race Commissioners – players who are putting together Teams; Planners – players who are designing the different racetracks; and Drivers who race. Discord’s 700 members are building track and outdoor decorations, as well as deciding on the rules. The URL plans to develop this layer2 overlay in Upland and create a third party racing system for Unity, which will be skill-based.
This initiative is organically being adopted by other nodes. Boystown node in Chicago for example, is louding the development of their neighborhood’s Circuit Race Track “sanctioned by URL”. This is a good example of Balaji Srinivasan’s description of Web3 community vs Web2 communities. Balaji’s notion being that in web3 “we are all in this together” while web2 games are a one-way player interaction with project operators. Facilitating the Web3 approach, Upland’s roadmap is indicative of a strategy of building tools for players to develop prosperous communities and economies on their own, like the URL.
A lot of Upland nodes have their own initiatives and governance. Portage Park, for example, is one example. The node was crowned the winners of the Halloween decorations challenge 2021. They take pride in the activities they organize. Russellenvy, the newly elected first mayor of the Portage Park node in Upland’s Chicago described some of the community plans they are pursuing: “We are attracting more Metaventures to Portage Park; Block explorer shops, NFLPA legit shops, outdoor decor and more. We also look forward to dev shops and expanding into layer two applications”. Describing the Governance mechanism the community has created, the Mayor said they have “Formed a Council that is made up of three elected individuals (DongDingBat, CrownHandler, Outsomniac), four moderators (CityRunner, COOP, MRFR, Hanzilla206) and the Mayor. Anyone in Portage Park can propose an idea to host a contest/giveaway. The council then gathers and discusses which ideas they would like to pursue further.” The Council, he mentioned, communicates directly with the individuals about the proposal and picks which to present to the community. The initiatives aim to make the community better, create more structures and bring in new people. The Portage Park Building Guidelines is a great example. While the community had decided that red and while would be the preferred color for structures, it was agreed to modify guidelines to permit a more accentual or detail color. The popularity of the node naturally led to property prices rising. However, OG players are allowed to sell their properties to other members below the market value in order to keep the community accessible and encourage growth. “It’s truly a great community.” Russellenvy said with pride.
Here are some examples of nodes located in Upland
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