Friday, May 24, 2024

What Is A Blockchain Game?

I like writing about topics surrounding the video games I play, if not about the games themselves. But I am in a bit of a bind currently. Somehow CCP Games managed to accept me into the closed Phase III playtest for their new blockchain-based game, Project Awakening. Due to the NDA I signed, I can't say anything else about the playtest. However, I still want to write about web3/blockchain games.

To try avoiding any NDA breaches I will use an AI program, Co-Pilot, to navigate the waters. Also, I need to learn how to use AI for work and so I found a practical use. Besides, I really don't know the subject field so hopefully Co-Pilot will get set me on the right path.

My first question, naturally, is, "What is a blockchain?" Co-Pilot replied with the following:

A blockchain is a distributed database or ledger that is shared across a network of computers. It is designed to record transactions in a way that is secure, transparent, and tamper-proof. Each record, or “block,” is linked to the previous one, forming a chain of blocks—hence the name “blockchain.” This structure ensures that once information is added, it cannot be altered without changing all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus from the network.

Blockchains are best known for their role in cryptocurrency systems, like Bitcoin, where they maintain a decentralized record of transactions. However, their applications extend beyond cryptocurrencies to any industry where immutable data is valuable. They can be used to create smart contracts, manage supply chains, secure digital identities, and more. The technology is praised for its potential to reduce the need for trusted third parties, such as auditors, by providing a transparent and verifiable system.

Okay, so a blockchain game uses a blockchain. Simple. Co-Pilot's reply extended into the whys of a blockchain game, so I was happy.

A blockchain game is a type of video game that incorporates blockchain technology into its core gameplay mechanics. This technology enables new ways of creating, owning, and trading virtual assets within the game. Blockchain games often use cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to facilitate these transactions, allowing players to trade in-game items for cryptocurrency, which can then be exchanged for real-world money.

These games can also provide a transparent and fair system for in-game economics, and some are designed as “play-to-earn” games, where players can earn cryptocurrency through gameplay. The use of blockchain in games aims to redefine the relationship between players and game creators, offering a fairer and more transparent environment.

Blockchain games have been around since 2017, with CryptoKitties being one of the first to gain widespread attention. The game allowed players to purchase, breed, and sell virtual cats as NFTs using Ethereum cryptocurrency. Since then, the concept has evolved, and many new blockchain games have emerged, each with unique features and economies.

I even received some history, which was nice. But why use a blockchain when other options are available? Honestly, Co-Pilot's answer did not impress me much although gave me ideas for future posts.

Certainly! Blockchain games offer several unique features that set them apart from traditional video games. Let’s explore some of these features:

  1. True Ownership with NFTs: In blockchain games, players have verifiable ownership of their in-game assets through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Unlike traditional games where items are controlled by developers, NFTs allow players to truly own their digital items, characters, or collectibles. These NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded on blockchain marketplaces.

  2. Decentralized Economies: Blockchain games operate on decentralized platforms, which means that in-game assets, transactions, and interactions are managed transparently and securely. Players can participate in the game’s economy without relying on central authorities.

  3. Play-to-Earn Mechanism: Some blockchain games follow a play-to-earn model. Players can transfer their in-game effort, activity, and items into cryptocurrency. By participating in the game, they can earn real-world value through their gameplay.

  4. Unique Abilities and Combinations: Games like Axie Infinity feature Axies, which are axolotl-inspired creatures. Each Axie has its own unique abilities, allowing for an infinite combination of Axie types and playstyles. Players can collect, breed, and battle with their Axies.

  5. Governance and Collaboration: In Alien Worlds, players explore space in a fourth-wall-breaking setting of intergalactic bitcoin mining communities. They can find NFTs, mine for resources, stake claims to new frontiers, and even participate in shaping the future of their planets’ governments. The game combines both competitive and collaborative elements.

  6. Pixelated Fantasy Worlds: Games like CryptoBeasts create pixelated fantasy worlds where players own plots of land, each containing a rare egg (the central NFT). These eggs serve as governance tokens and can be hatched into CryptoBeasts, which compete in battles. The more eggs and CryptoBeasts a player owns, the greater their impact on the world’s governance.

In summary, blockchain games redefine ownership, transparency, and interaction within the gaming industry, offering players a novel and engaging experience. 🎮✨

So what about the downsides? I asked Co-Pilot and my AI advisor on this knowledge trip provided several.

So far, so good. The list of potential problems for developers of blockchain games is a place to begin. The next question seemed obvious: "Are there any industry standards or best practices for blockchain game development?"

Yes, there are industry standards and best practices that have been established to guide blockchain game development. These include:

These best practices are designed to help developers create blockchain games that are not only technically sound but also enjoyable and sustainable for the gaming community.

Honestly I was pretty sure no organizations existed to set standards for blockchain games. But my AI advisor set me straight on that score.

Certainly! There are organizations that actively work on setting standards and promoting blockchain within the gaming industry. Here are a couple of notable ones:

  1. Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA): The BGA is committed to spreading awareness about blockchain technologies in gaming. Their mission includes encouraging adoption, advancing public understanding, and providing an open platform for discussion and engagement. They also focus on research, discussions, and sharing best practices related to blockchain game development.

  2. Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC): While not exclusively focused on games, the GBBC plays a role in shaping blockchain standards. It tracks developments in blockchain standards and produces recommendations for further standards. It covers various topics, including blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and supply chains.

Additionally, European standardization organizations such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) are relevant to blockchain standards in Europe. These organizations contribute to fostering standardization within the financial industry and promoting best practices.

These efforts aim to create a more consistent and reliable environment for blockchain game development and adoption. 🎮🌐

As I stated in the introduction of this post, I'm trying to learn how to use artificial intelligence programs like Microsoft's Co-Pilot. Using AI makes research a lot easier. Well, a human still has to follow up to make sure the answers make sense, but I would have to do that in any case.

Returning back to the topic of the post, I went a little overboard on the subject and produced a 1500 word article on the definition of a blockchain game. I didn't just come up with a definition but found several positives and negatives concerning the genre. Finally, Co-Pilot introduced me to the ways developers address the negatives.

At least in theory. I'll get to see how theory turns into reality with CCP's development of Project Awakening. While the NDA I'm under prevents me from writing about my experiences with a specific developing project, I can still write about the issues both developers and players face with the emerging blockchain gaming industry. The post contains several ideas for follow-up articles. I have the feeling I won't have to worry about writer's block for some time.

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