Virtual Attention Token (VAT) – a system for incentivizing social VR adoption


Social VR, like any social network, suffers from a chicken and egg problem that you need content to attract users and you need users to attract content creators. One possible solution, inspired by Basic Attention Token (BAT), would be to create a token and issue it to early users to incentivize them to participate in the network before it achieves scale.

As well as incentivizing early participants in the network such a token would also provide all the privacy benefits BAT provides and eliminate middlemen from ad-networks from the word go. Ultimately VAT will allow world creators to monetize their creativity while protecting user privacy.
Here’s how I think it can work:

  1. Publishers: Managers of virtual world servers add code to their sandbox (perhaps in the assignment client within high fidelity) which allows the server to double as a ‘miner’ replicating the VAT blockchain and recording transactions in the network. The publishers have a stake of VAT to ensure integrity, tokens are distributed based on Proof of stake (more on how they are distributed below). The publisher is responsible for creating content that keeps the user engaged in their world.
  2. Users: Client avatars also run a script which communicates with the server and other avatars in the region. That script also runs a smart contract which allocates tokens earned by the user to the user and also any creators of content such as the person who designed the avatar or accessories. The smart contract could inspire creativity in new business models for content creators. This script would also allow the user to decide what personal data to release to the advertising network, perhaps with incentives to be paid more for sharing more. This puts privacy in the hands of the user, not the advertiser or the platform. Users could also be required to hold stake of tokens that they could lose for abusive behavior.
  3. Advertisers: Initially advertising would be built to support in-world activities such as posters advertising events, portals taking someone to the advertisers world or links to objects for sale in the marketplace. A user triggering an advertising event (eg viewing a poster or passing through a paid portal) will trigger a payment from the advertiser to the user and the publisher in some defined ratio (and perhaps also to the platform, eg high fidelity, as in theory this token could be cross platform if the platforms are based on open standards). Eventually advertising could include real world activities.
  4. Token distribution: Tokens would be distributed via Proof of Attention in a similar way to how coins are issued at the money tree. First every time period ‘t’ tokens are issued to some number of publishers based on their stake allocation (or perhaps based on how many avatars are in the world). The number of publishers picked per time period will be a fixed fraction of total publishers active. An avatar is then chosen in that world at random to pick another user to receive the token, so tokens are issued sort of like a virtual equivalent of facebook likes.
  5. Token supply: There’s a fixed token supply that is issued with ‘halving’ every few years. Early users will primarily get tokens through the airdrop and over time the mix will shift to earning tokens primarily from participating in advertising activities.
  6. Token price: A fixed token supply with a growing network becoming more attractive to advertisers should result in rising token price and distribution of wealth of the network to it’s users and participants. Recognizing this dynamic, advertisers may seek to purchase tokens from users/publishers in advance of needing them to secure a discount on their future advertising expenditure.
  7. Discoverability: because publishers earn VAT for having users in their world, they will be willing to spend VAT to attract users to their world. The publishers with the best content will earn the most VAT so will be able to bid the most to attract users, creating a virtuous quality cycle allowing the ads to be useful to discover the best content. Thus VAT allows bootstrapping an attention economy without requiring translation into real dollars in the early days of the network.
  8. Interoperability: VAT’s should be tradable for HFC and other tokens to provide liquidity to users/publishers and to provide a mechanism for advertisers to acquire VAT.
  9. Legality: Decentralization of the token issuance process, avoidance of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), avoidance of a central managing agent controlling the network and launching with a clear utility purpose (for advertising) should be sufficient to fail the Howey test and avoid the token being considered a security in the USA.

I’m curious what the community thinks about the concept. If you are interested in the idea and would like to collaborate on developing out the concept please reach out and we can meet in world.

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It’s an interesting Theory. But I think that is already being put to the test.
I swear I’ve had this conversation a million times.
It’s not only important to get content and content creators. But what kind of content and what kind of people you encourage at the beginning could set how your platform progresses forever.
High Fidelity and sansar went with your theory. Everybody is motivated by money. Therefore motivate people to come into our popcorn make content by paying them. Or giving them a Marketplace to sell their content.
Vrchat went with incentivizing content creators that just wanted to make cool stuff bye allowing content that is liked to be more visible. Encourage people to make cool content and show off what they can do.
I would say the types of people that were encouraged to go to that platform we’re the type of people that the majority people wanted to hang out with. It created a fun environment. Because the type of people they encouraged to be in there were fun people.
High Fidelity users enjoy complaining about content production and looking forward to the day that they might actually make a dime. Hours of fun.
I would say if they actually wanted this platform to succeed they would kill that way of looking at it. Before this type of person destroys the platform. And if they don’t like it go to sansar. Encourage good content creators to make fun content bye incentivizing them. Pay for their domains when their remains are good. Make their demands more visible both in the spot and on the High Fidelity website when the domain is a demain people want to go to. Encourage fun people to join High Fidelity. Maybe one day it could be monetized. But right now there aren’t enough people to want that. And it’s doing more damage than good.


I tend to think too that it would be another blow of sword in water if you think this is going to increase the crowd. (But your idea is certainly good to extract the content of quality to build a directory)

You can make a very vast and elaborated world full of content, but if people see it empty they won’t stay.

There is maybe too many domains exposed for the size of the current crowd. When the user comes, and visit a minimum of places outside where our 15 online people are, he sees an ocean of empty places and probably ends to consider that there is no one on High Fidelity.
It’s a bit like exploring Chernobyl.

  • Make good build tools.

  • drop the tablet in desktop mode and implement a better user interface. One that can do multitask.

  • Add default a complete text chat system with IM and groups etc.

  • Make controls customizable. the current o es have problems.

  • Better graphics, really the colors everything are not something you give a party for.

Just a few things why people not come. At this point secondlife wins. and many will not move easy away from it. And that makes it hard for new platforms to get people.

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Could you please go a little further on make good build tools. Do you mean make the current edit tools more user-friendly. Or do you mean make them more complex so they’ll be more professional. More functionality. Or do you mean add more in-game build tools so you can edit primitive rather than having to import a model from blender. Personally I think it has the right balance right now. It’s not too complex where new users can’t quickly learn the system. But at the same time it’s powerful enough for people to build a domain. The fact that the edit tools can only place and size and rotate models and most of the building is left to a program like blender is a good thing. I personally like the fact that my servers are disconnected from the rest of the metaverse. Having a more functional chat system that can be used to talk to anybody from anywhere means that you’re going to need external servers from your own. Personally I would rather just have them integrate Skype or Discord with video chat. Because we can rely on Skyp to be here in the future. And the only good reasons I have found for these kind of chat systems right now is it’s in other programs like Second Life. Good for them. This isn’t Second Life. Does my Firefox browser have a built-in chat system. No I use Facebook. Or Skype. Just integrate with systems that are already freaking used so we don’t have to get our friends to use a new freaking chat just to talk to them while we’re in high fidelity. Better graphics. Personally I have built models in blender and substance painter and brought them into High Fidelity and they look exactly the same. Using the right workflow. More or less the quality of somebody’s artwork is heavily dependent on their skills as an artist. If you give somebody truly wanting to make art a crappy canvas they will figure out how to make art on it. If you give someone a perfectly good canvas and they both do not want to make art and they have not the skills to make art it doesn’t matter how good that canvas is made. It will look like crap.


Vat is a decent idea , it’s been tried with SL ‘dwell’ which resulted in lots of camping which is an inflated engagement number.

What might work better is establishing more paying roles other than just creator … tip jar is good but if people have no coin they can’t tip.

Back when SL was media darling, appeal was to be a paid dancer , host, advertising rep etc…

There has to be a way for new users to make hfc without creating complex models… a bottom up economy essentially,. Right now we have a stagnant top down model.

There is also a big gap on b2b sales, since all marketplace items are only b2c. This means aspiring creators don’t have a channel to express themselves , and the secondary scripting or builders tools market is non existent.

Money doesn’t have to be a motivator, but I’m sure any creators would feel better if there is a chance to cover domain expense etc.

Anyone building in social vr has long ago given up trying to compare RL salary to what is possible here, but it still feels good to have supplemental income.


For what it’s worth, a fellow writing his doctoral work has some overlap with virtual attention tokens. The project is VRENAR. I can dig up a link if you are interested?