Star Ferry history comes alive in South China Morning Post metaverse experience on The Sandbox
- Players can move around the game, which features a backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyline, and interact with game characters to understand the city’s history
- Amid concerns about an easing of pandemic era stimulus and rising geopolitical tensions, NFT prices have steadily retreated after months of global enthusiasm
The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper with 118 years of history, has launched a metaverse experience on blockchain gaming platform The Sandbox, offering an immersive, gamified tour of the city’s iconic Star Ferry Pier.
The Post’s metaverse experience, Hong Kong Star Ferry Pier, is among more than 35 that The Sandbox is offering with its new season that will run through the month of March, and is open to the public for free.
The game is based on an extensive visual library of award-winning photography, visual illustrations, data, infographics and associated journalism that the newspaper owns, covering more than 100 years of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese history.
“The metaverse is a digital world where real-world concepts of value and scarcity can provably exist. SCMP’s 118 years of reporting and extensive library of photographs gave us the opportunity to breathe new life into historical locations in the metaverse,” said Gary Liu, CEO of South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. “This serves as a bridge to connect with a new generation of readers and digital natives and we look forward to working closely with our partners to continue serving our audience.”
The Star Ferry, one of Hong Kong’s oldest forms of transport, began operations in 1888. The experience, built in collaboration with local metaverse studio Index Game, will feature a virtual portal that “teleports” players between the present day and moments in the past, where they can learn the ferry pier’s history and relive some of the city’s most iconic moments and events.
Players can move around the game, which features a backdrop of Hong Kong’s imposing skyline, and interact with game characters to understand the city’s history, including talking with the Star Ferry’s longest-serving employee to learn how Victoria Harbour has changed over the years.
They can also complete a variety of quests, or embark on a virtual ride on the ferry to take a closer look at its iconic double-ended design.
As part of the Post’s ongoing efforts to stay on top of the latest technology trends, the company has also ventured into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – data added to a blockchain that proves a digital item’s uniqueness and ownership. NFTs let people own and trade digital assets, and are considered a driver of the future metaverse economy.
The ARTIFACT project allows people to “discover, collect, showcase, trade, and reanimate meaningful moments and objects from our collective human experience”, Liu said at the time.
Amid concerns about an easing of pandemic era stimulus and rising geopolitical tensions, NFT prices have steadily retreated after months of global enthusiasm. The average selling price has declined to under US$2,000, compared with an all-time high of almost US$6,900 on January 2, according to industry data tracker NonFungible.com
However, the adoption rate of NFTs is still growing. In February, the number of unique traders and the sales count increased 8 per cent and 2 per cent across all protocols month over month, according to market tracker DappRadar.