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June 18, 2020
Alpha Innovation Series: Chris Kovalik on Blockchain Games and Vortex Rising
Alpha Innovation Series: Chris Kovalik on Blockchain Games and Vortex Rising
CAKOvalik (@CAKovalik) | Twitter

Introduce your team

My name is Chris Kovalik and I am the founder and CEO of Vortex Games. I’m an ex-Wall Streeter, turned Venture Investor, turned Game Developer who’s also been organizing in-person PC gaming events in NYC for Redditors for six years. My team and I founded Vortex Games to build something beautiful with our players by re-imagining a game created by my first game studio: Wavedash Games. 

We asked ourselves a question: What if players were compensated for their essential role in the gaming industry? Every year players are generating 780 billion hours of playtime and 100 billion hours of content to watch. While these products of their passion are essential to the game industry, players are not being compensated for them. 

As hardcore players ourselves, Team Vortex knows our peers are the kindest, most welcoming group of people we've ever known. Our ecosystem-based monetization says it’s finally time for players everywhere to be rewarded with the resources they deserve to leave their mark on the world. 

Our ecosystem-first approach allows players to profit-share on what they’re passionate about: their skill, their content, and their brand. 

What lured you into the world of blockchain?

The same week we closed $6M of venture financing for Wavedash Games in late 2016, a close friend of mine raised nearly the same amount for his gaming venture in one of the first ever ICOs. I was both shocked and inspired to see how much people would contribute to causes they believed in. I had dabbled with mining Bitcoin before this, but learning about Ethereum was my true awakening.

In 2018, I would end up at the helm of my own blockchain company: a next-generation tax services provider, Cointaxes. It was incredibly eye opening to work on the regulatory side of blockchain. It showed me how much raw potential there was for this incredible technology - as well as how little it was understood. 

I’ve spent the last four years at the bleeding edge of game development and blockchain. With Vortex Games, I’m excited to finally bring the last four years of experience together by leveraging blockchain to power our ecosystem-based monetization. It feels like the moment I’ve been preparing for.

Why did you decide to build on Flow?

For us the answer starts and ends with Dapper Labs. They’ve designed Flow to be as intuitive as possible with training tools and materials and the team at Dapper Labs made themselves abundantly available to problem-solve any challenge we faced.

Even though we’re just getting started in their Alpha Program, we are already grateful for their tremendous support in helping us with our own ambitions. We share a deep desire to cultivate a thriving and sustainable ecosystem and their constant innovation in blockchain and gaming inspires us to leave our own mark.

With Dapper Labs and Flow powering us, we’ve never been more excited about the confluence of digital entertainment and blockchain. The future is almost here. 

Favorite video game character and why you love them? Favorite video game? 

I’m obviously biased: in our game, Vortex Rising, my favorite character is our wrestling-loving Pope-like religious figure, Xarknar. 

Xarknar aside, I’d have to say World of Warcraft and the Warlock class! I was among the best player-vs-player Warlocks globally during the Burning Crusade expansion. People paid me in-game gold and real money to get them legendary status gear. Making that kind of money as a young teenager from video games totally made the ~1.5 years of in-game playtime worth it. It’s also exactly the kind of satisfaction we’d aspire to facilitate en mass with Flow and Vortex Rising.

What should I read next?

I’d like to share a book that was recommended to me at a time of personal crisis: Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti. In this book, Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian Guru and Professor, shares his personal observations and explorations of life. I had my first of several existential crises reading this book before finishing Chapter One where he concludes that ambition is essentially the root of all evil. I cannot think of another book I’ve read that can be as calmly comforting and shockingly eye-opening. 

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’d like to call attention to two books that were educational to me on this subject. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which has also been adapted to a movie, as well as Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari. The former details several of Bryan Steveson’s Defense Cases for innocent African American people on death row and the latter chronicles America’s famous War on Drugs and its impact on the African American communities.