New NFT Game from Artist Mitchell F. Chan Asks Big Questions

Credit: Mitchell Chan

Mitchell F. Chan, the artist behind one of the first NFT projects ever created, just announced the launch of his most ambitious NFT project yet — “The Boys of Summer.”

The Boys of Summer NFT collection consists of 999 dynamic PFP NFTs of baseball characters designed by Chan himself. It will be released on the marketplace on August 16th, a curated Web3 platform dedicated to artists and collectors.

According to the press release, the project is Chan’s biggest release in terms of “size, scope, and sophistication.” It aims to use NFT technology and metadata to investigate the quantification of self through America’s favorite pastime — baseball. But it goes way beyond baseball. Here’s how it works.

The PFP NFTs come with only two traits to start: the player’s name and position. When the NFTs are plugged into a web app, the game begins, and the character’s life stories start to unfold. In the beginning, users provide inputs about their baseball-related stats and traits as they strive to become professional ballplayers. But as the game progresses, those stats become much more personal, encompassing data related to things like sleep, income, credit score, sex life, and even student loan debt.

Throughout the game players accumulate an abundance of data points that form the metadata of their PFPs. These points are tallied through user-decisions and the innate capabilities of the NFTs (ie. nature vs nurture). Afterwards, the NFTs, along with their complicated metadata, can be bought and sold on NFT marketplaces.

According to Chan, the project aims to explore three critical aspects of culture: sports, crypto & PFP culture, and the quantification of self. The latter is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the project — a look at how in today’s modern culture our lives are constantly represented by numbers.

Chan told Rarity Sniper that as the game goes on, “eventually your player may not be a baseball player” at all. Instead, he might be an Amazon warehouse worker or a teacher. Over time, “more and more statistics keep filling up your screen until your window, which used to just show your happy smiling PFP with their funny glasses and their cool lifestyle, is just filled up with boxes and statistics — which is to me the imagery of our times.”

In this way, the project distinguishes itself not just as a fun PFP project for NFT collectors, but also a commentary on the times we live in. Although Chan also told us he believes the artist’s job is to ask question, not necessarily answer them.

Who is Mitchell F. Chan and what is ‘Digital Zones’?

Before entering the NFT space, Mitchell F. Chan was a prominent conceptual artist frequently exhibiting his work around Canada and the world (and he still is). But in 2017, after discovering Ethereum and taking inspiration from the work of French artist Yves Klein, Chan launched “Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorials Sensibility,” and his career took another turn.

For NFT historians, Digital Zones has become one of the first prominent examples of NFT art. Launched along with a 33-page essay commenting on the nature of blockchain ownership and the potential future of the technology in art, each NFT resembles a receipt that unlocks a blank digital space.

“For years, no one cared,” Chan said about the work. But then as NFTs began gaining steam in 2021, interest in the project started growing. In 2021, one NFT from the collection sold for more than $1.5 million on Sotheby’s.

As one of the first people to show that art could be sold as tokens, Chan is considered a pioneer in the space. Since Digital Zones, he has released additional NFT projects, including the ‘LeWitt Generator Generator,’ an artwork created on the Art Blocks platform in 2021, as well as ‘Beggars Belief,’ a genre-bending story-driven project delivered via four episodes.

While Chan is undoubtedly immersed in NFTs and blockchain technology, he told Rarity Sniper that first and foremost, he’s an artist. And “you make art to take a question that is big and unwieldy and put it in a form where it seems manageable, where you can poke at it, where you can take it apart and help people think better about it, or help people think better around it.”

We’ll have to be patient to see if The Boys of Summer NFT collection is as popular as some of Chan’s other projects. But whether its monetarily successful or not, we expect that the big questions the project explores will get people talking. And for Chan, using art to start a dialogue is much more important than making a buck. At Rarity Sniper, we think that’s a breath of fresh air for the NFT space.

In case you missed it:

Stay tuned! Rarity Sniper’s Thought Leadership Series with Mitchell F. Chan will be published in the coming weeks.