Cute, cuddly kittens are taking over the Ethereum network, and are presently responsible for 4% of the transactions taking place on the so-called “world computer.” That’s right, the smart contract platform that could potentially disrupt multiple industries is now playing host to a viral cat game.

The game, CryptoKitties, launched just a few days ago on November 28 but is already the second most popular application on the Ethereum network. Unsurprisingly, the premise of CryptoKitties is to acquire an array of different cat cartoons, each having different attributes or “cattitudes.”

Buying and selling

These attributes are coded into a virtual genome, with each cat displaying certain physical features, phenotypes, depending on their genetic code, or genotype. If this sounds a lot like your high school biology class, that’s because it is. Users “breed” different kitties together to acquire new cats with different and possibly rare features. There are four billion possible combinations.

Just as you can buy swords and armor in online games such as World of Warcraft, rare kitties can be traded for real money, fetching prices as high as $5,000 each. However, unlike virtual items in online games, which are lost if the game shuts down, kitties last forever. That’s because they are actually discrete tokens that exist on the Ethereum network, so even if the game developers disappear, players’ kitties will remain.

The game developers insist that it’s impossible for them to game the system. Technical architect Dieter Shirley said:

“The CryptoKitties economy is entirely decentralized and impossible for the development team to manipulate. Anyone on the team with knowledge of the breeding algorithm is prohibited from playing.”

Marketing director Elsa Wilk wrote:

“Our approach to brand and marketing is, in part, a tongue-in-cheek critique of the ICO market today.”

Lighthearted approach

With the red-hot digital currency market generating rapid games and reaching new highs on an almost weekly basis, investors have become frenetic. Speculators search for the hottest ICOs with the intention of selling their tokens quickly for massive profits. With such seriousness abounding in the cryptocurrency market, games like CryptoKitties provide a refreshing note of humor.

As Wall Street continues to show great interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Main Street may catch on to digital currency in the most unusual possible way: by playing cat games on the Blockchain.