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This post talks about how the blockchain technology can and will influence game design in the next upcoming decade. It detailed the origin of blockchain technology and use simple examples to explain it.

Daniel Berube, Blogger

February 28, 2019

6 Min Read


Imagine that your users can create unique content for your game and get paid for doing that. Some of them, the most talented one can even work full-time for your game and gain enough money to make it their most important year income. It may seem to be irrelevant for some game developers but in fact, we are not far to make it happen and this may have become a general gaming industry trends in the upcoming decade.

I’ve been interested in blockchain technology for a few years already, I spend times to read in order to understand it.  As a game designer, I have an idea of how this technology can influence and will influence the way we are designing a game in the future. This future is already here and before going into the subject, here is what blockchain technology is about:

The origins

The first blockchain work was described by Stuart Haber and W Scott Stornetta as a cryptographically secured blockchain. It is Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 that has design the bitcoins network that serves as a public ledger for all transaction on the network. From there, the blockchain and crypto currencies have been linked together for the mass.

blockchain representation

To have a better understanding, we must split the 2 parts. The blockchain is not cryptocurrencies, while most of the people associated both things, we must look further to clearly understand the full potential of this technology and how you can apply it to your game design.

Centralized system

The blockchain is a decentralized ledger of a transaction. To make it clear, let’s understand what is a centralized ledger of a transaction and use a simple example one, your bank card.

If you use your bank card to buy a coffee at your favourite coffee shop;

  • The merchant will swipe the card and a pending transaction will be sent to your bank.

  • Your bank will verify if the transaction is valid as do you have enough money in your bank account to pay for your coffee.

  • The answer is yes

  • The transaction is written in a ledger held by the bank

  • The answer is then sent to the merchant and he accepts the transaction.

Centralized system

This is the process that happens to a centralized system

Decentralized network (The blockchain)

Now, let’s say to you do the exact same transaction on a decentralized system;

  • The merchant will swipe the card and a transaction will be written in the blockchain ledger

  • The decentralized network (miners) will validate the new transaction recorded in the blockchain registry.

  • After a certain amount of validation (X amount of time*) the transaction is considered valid

  • Funds are transferred directly to the merchant wallet.

Decentralized blockchain system

What it really means

Now that we have clarified the difference between a centralized and a decentralized network, let’s put it in a real-life context to better understand the application of a decentralized network and how it will change our future.  Imagine it with a simple daily habit, such as drinking your daily coffee in the morning.

Imagine that instead of buying it at the grocery store, you buy directly to the farmer. Meaning that this farmer instead of getting a small % of revenue cut by all the intermediary may get most of is revenue right in his pocket. Blockchain can allow him to make business directly with you, by eliminating the different intermediate that will take a % of his revenue through the supply process.

The technology of smart contract allowed that farmer to have a contract directly to you and you may have the possibility to also track your shipment at every step. You have a consumer will pay your coffee cheaper and he as a farmer will receive more money for each gram of coffee sold…think about it. This is how blockchain technology changes the way of doing business.

But how this technology can influence game design?

Get paid to create a unique item

Let’s imagine that you are playing one of the most popular MMORPG of all time, as playing the game, you have developed unique crafting skills that you are the only player that can do craft specific things on a server.  

Let’s say that this unique skills allowed you to create a unique super weapon with unique stats and abilities that some of the users would want to buy.

The fact that each item can be unique, and only a few players can create it, will make each item more valuable. Each item can be sold by players on the server and the user that create these unique virtual goods can get paid for doing it.

Get paid to offer services in a game

Let’s take another example, you are an Inn owner in this world, see where it can go?

You can make money by renting a room for the adventurer to get a rest. You can make money by selling food to the player to regenerate faster…

Inn tavern

As a game developer, you know that user-generated content has a big value for your game. The more quality content you get in your game, the more the player can be engaged and retained to your game. With the blockchain, you have a way to create incentive and rewarding people for doing it. The stress is not on the production team but on users that wanted to be part of the world that you have created.

Prevent hackers on non-connected games

As a game developer, you all know that when a game is accessible to be playable offline, it is always possible for people to hack your game and avoid your transaction validation system. The blockchain technology can be an interesting alternative for that. Meaning that since the blockchain is alive ledger where all transaction appears, it’s an easy already available solution to validate or in this cases invalidated the transaction.

What if you create the games and think it as the Spotify business case?

Let’s think about your game as a similar provider that Spotify can be. Spotify diffuse content created by people from all around the world. What if your game becomes the provider of that community of creator that create content for your game coming from all around the world. That may change the videogames industry isn’t?

Use an existing solution

The most interesting part is that a game developer company,  may not want to invest and spend resources to develop your own blockchain technology to build your game.  In fact, there are already available network solutions already in place that can be used. a network such as Ethereum (The biggest one), EOS, Cardano, TRX are already implemented up and running to gives you some examples. Those are already available decentralized blockchain network solution that offers you the possibility to create your own parallel economy that can be used in your game to propose the design to another level. 

We just need to do a game design that will be that will support that technology and developed ideas around it. I see a lot of design opportunities that will change the way we think and we are designing games.

Follow me to my blog at www.thinkgamedesign.com 


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