Blockchain gaming

As mentioned on the home page, I’ve been doing a lot of research around blockchain gaming. My thinking has evolved as I’ve learnt new ideas and techniques however my core drive is to push for decentralization. I think it’s a very tough problem, but an interesting problem to solve.

In my first blog I argued for putting more of the game state on-chain [link]. However, my thinking recently is to perhaps keep a record on-chain of game actions (not quite game state), but then compute state and game logic off-chain. Trying to do game logic on-chain is sub-optimal for complex games, but can work for something simple.

It is interesting to note that most blockchain games that we see advertised today are mostly centralized games with NFTs for item ownership. While this is somewhat interesting, it isn’t really my focus or what holds my interest.

NFTs have become overhyped relative to the value of the technology, ditto for the phrase metaverse. While not inherently bad terms, they are being abused for marketing purposes.

Decentralized Gaming

What I really want to solve is decentralization for gaming, but what exactly do I mean by ‘decentralized gaming’?

I suggest a first understanding can come from combining the definitions of “decentralized” and “game“. If we merge them together we can derive a potential definition of a decentralized game:

Any game that features distributed planning and authority, and is designed to resist single points of failure could be described as “decentralized”. For me, I use the phrase “decentralized game” to refer almost exclusively to games that require a computer or similar electronic device.

See: Decentralization (Wikipedia) and Video game (Wikipedia)

This doesn’t necessitate the use of a blockchain; however, given that blockchains are a solution to trust in a public adversarial network then it is an obvious technology to use for decentralized games which are necessarily online and public (think MMOs). However, as noted above, the use of a blockchain within a software stack does not guarantee decentralization. A centralized game with NFTs glued on to the side doesn’t decentralize much.

I think decentralized games really need:

  • Open Source Code (with appropriate license)
  • Decentralized Blockchain Network
  • Distributed verification of player actions.

Decentralized Gaming Association

I helped to co-found the DGA back in November 2019, the group came together when the founding members met online to discuss what should be done to further promote fully decentralized games. The technology is poorly understood and the games virtually unknown, yet we the belief that the technology will bring great benefits that outweigh the problems.

Selection of Blogs

While my first piece mulled on the possibility of putting state fully on-chain, in later pieces I discuss how to verify the actions of players and how that fits with using Polkadot to power them. I also consider how we can fund and govern such a game too, which is tricky if such games will be open source by default.

If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, I postulated that we could turn gaming guilds into securitized DAOs. I naively suggested they can be companies, but a friend suggested that they should potentially be either mutuals, partnerships, or actual guilds.

What if we could take the Golem project and turn it into a Decentralised version of Google Stadia? [link] This was another idea that I was brewing but it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with ‘blockchain gaming’.

Here are a few my blogs on the blockchain gaming: