6 ways blockchain is revolutionizing online gaming

Back with another one of those block(chain)-rockin' reads.

  • Blockchain is already revolutionizing many industries across the board, and the gaming sector is no exception.
  • The gaming industry is a massive market on the rise with huge potential for growth, and blockchain is already looking for ways to innovate this up-and-coming sector.
  • Blockchain projects are already focusing on solving specific pain points and issues currently found in the gaming world which will be based on the technology.

It is often said that blockchain technology could one day revolutionize a range of industries, from global payments, energy and even the election process. However, one sector in particular that is somewhat under-discussed is the gaming space.

Blockchain is the technology that supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It's basically a giant accounting ledger that records each and every transaction that is processed by the system, and it's extremely secure. Moreover, blockchain requires no third party to verify transactions, as that role is left to a group of online volunteers known as "miners".

So how does this link in to the ever growing world of gaming, an industry that generated $108.4 billion in 2017 revenues?

Incentivizing

Photo: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images.

Japanese football fans watch a large screen of the football video game 'FIFA 14, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Limited Pack' for Sony's PlayStation 4 at a launching event in Tokyo on June 4, 2014.

Incentivization within gaming is a crucial selling point for many leading titles. For example, players of FIFA Ultimate Team, a hugely popular mode within the FIFA soccer range, are given the opportunity to earn FUT coins while navigating through the game. However, other than allowing the player to purchase additional player packs, these FUT coins have no use outside of the game.

Blockchain uses a digital token system that once listed on a third party exchange, allows users to exchange them for other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, or even real-world cash. As a result, the future of competitive gaming built in collaboration with blockchain could reward successful gamers with in-house cryptocurrencies that have real-world value.

One such example of this is the Huntercoin project. The blockchain-based gaming world allows players to earn its native HUC coin by competing with other players.

True ownership of rewards

Similar to the FUT coins, gaming skins are a hugely popular way for players to earn in-game rewards. Essentially, skins are a customizable reward that allows players to change the appearance of a particular in-game feature, such as a character, vehicle or weapon. This is a surprisingly lucrative industry, for example, in early 2018 a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) player sold a weapon skin for $61,000!

However, some would argue that these gaming rewards are opaquely controlled by those that own the title. As blockchain does not require a third party to facilitate the transferring of digital assets, players would be free to trade in-game skins on a peer-to-peer basis, gaining full control of the skins they have earned.

Removing the black market

Earlier this year, an interesting report surfaced regarding a Fortnite player that had his account banned by the developer. The ban centered on the player's attempt to sell his gaming account, which contained a range of skins, accessories and other in-play rewards. As many titles do not offer a facility to buy or sell established accounts, players often have to turn to the unregulated black market where, as there are no safety mechanisms in place, they face the risk of getting scammed.

In contrast, blockchain provides a transparent escrow-like system that allows digital assets to be transferred without the requirement for an intermediary to validate the transaction. As a result, gaming developers can utilize blockchain tech in their network, creating safe, secure and free marketplace to buy and sell accounts, rewards and skins.

Transferring rewards across multiple titles


Players that prefer to obtain instant in-play gaming add-ons rather than attempting to earn them through successful game-play sometimes have the option to purchase them directly from the developer. However, one such qualm that this model presents is that players do not have the ability to transfer these items to additional titles. For example, a recent study found that 62% of participants would feel that in-game purchases would be better value if they were able to use them across multiple games.

By utilizing the blockchain, gamers would be able to transfer digital items with ease, without needing to go through a third party. Ultimately, this could work in the favor of both the player and the gaming developer, insofar that it could encourage an increase in spending.

Real world staking

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Fans look on during the FACEIT ECS Season 6 eSports finals between Astralis and MIBR on November 25, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.

Competitive gaming, otherwise referred to as eSports, are currently experiencing growth at an exponential rate. In fact, total eSports revenue is expected to exceed $900 million by the end of this year, a sizeable increase from 2016's $493 million. Player-to-player competitiveness within the gaming sector has never been stronger.

One organization that has recognized this demand is Unikoin Gold, a blockchain-based platform that allows players to gamble on the outcome of games. Unlike previous attempts to facilitate this market, Unikoin Gold has not only formed partnerships with leading titles such as Dota 2 and League of Legends, but has also acquired a full gaming license from the Isle and Man.

Online gamer streaming

A somewhat new market for video game enthusiasts is that of online streaming. Gamers upload live recordings of their game-play activities, alongside ongoing audio commentary, to popular third-party platforms such as YouTube or Twitch. However, the current state of play sees vloggers lose an unfair percentage of their earnings to the platform that hosts their video. Moreover, those that are fortunate enough to receive revenues for their gaming streams are often required to have a significant following which is higher than five figures, something that many gamers fail to achieve.

One company looking to put control back in to the hands of the gaming vlogger is AQER. The platform aims to provide a fairer and more transparent earning system based on blockchain. The project's CEO Phillippe Perotti has stated that:

"Inter-mediation in the vlogging or streaming industry is done poorly in many ways. Pricing, for example is neither fair nor transparent. Streamers and vloggers do not know how to price their content, and brands take advantage of them. The lack of pricing transparency between vloggers grants brands a lot of leverage over them."

Blockchain could help mitigate these issues and give gamers opportunities to get their fair payment without being taken advantage of.

It's safe to assume that gaming is here to stay, and with it many new jobs and opportunities are on their way, whether in building games or in being professional gamers. It's even possible that within the next few years gaming tournaments will become as mainstream as any other sporting events, with many major gaming events already being held and watched by millions online. Blockchain is already disrupting the sector in many ways and will be the door opening the gaming industry to new opportunities, but exactly what the future of this promising combination looks like only time will tell.

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Why Epicurean ideas suit the challenges of modern secular life

Sure, Epicureans focused on seeking pleasure – but they also did so much more.

Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Culture & Religion

'The pursuit of Happiness' is a famous phrase in a famous document, the United States Declaration of Independence (1776). But few know that its author was inspired by an ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus. Thomas Jefferson considered himself an Epicurean. He probably found the phrase in John Locke, who, like Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Adam Smith, had also been influenced by Epicurus.

Nowadays, educated English-speaking urbanites might call you an epicure if you complain to a waiter about over-salted soup, and stoical if you don't. In the popular mind, an epicure fine-tunes pleasure, consuming beautifully, while a stoic lives a life of virtue, pleasure sublimated for good. But this doesn't do justice to Epicurus, who came closest of all the ancient philosophers to understanding the challenges of modern secular life.

Epicureanism competed with Stoicism to dominate Greek and Roman culture. Born in 341 BCE, only six years after Plato's death, Epicurus came of age at a good time to achieve influence. He was 18 when Alexander the Great died at the tail end of classical Greece – identified through its collection of independent city-states – and the emergence of the dynastic rule that spread across the Persian Empire. Zeno, who founded Stoicism in Cyprus and later taught it in Athens, lived during the same period. Later, the Roman Stoic Seneca both critiqued Epicurus and quoted him favourably.

Today, these two great contesting philosophies of ancient times have been reduced to attitudes about comfort and pleasure – will you send back the soup or not? That very misunderstanding tells me that Epicurean ideas won, hands down, though bowdlerised, without the full logic of the philosophy. Epicureans were concerned with how people felt. The Stoics focused on a hierarchy of value. If the Stoics had won, stoical would now mean noble and an epicure would be trivial.

Epicureans did focus on seeking pleasure – but they did so much more. They talked as much about reducing pain – and even more about being rational. They were interested in intelligent living, an idea that has evolved in our day to mean knowledgeable consumption. But equating knowing what will make you happiest with knowing the best wine means Epicurus is misunderstood.

The rationality he wedded to democracy relied on science. We now know Epicurus mainly through a poem, De rerum natura, or 'On the Nature of Things', a 7,400 line exposition by the Roman philosopher Lucretius, who lived c250 years after Epicurus. The poem was circulated only among a small number of people of letters until it was said to be rediscovered in the 15th century, when it radically challenged Christianity.

Its principles read as astonishingly modern, down to the physics. In six books, Lucretius states that everything is made of invisible particles, space and time are infinite, nature is an endless experiment, human society began as a battle to survive, there is no afterlife, religions are cruel delusions, and the universe has no clear purpose. The world is material – with a smidgen of free will. How should we live? Rationally, by dropping illusion. False ideas largely make us unhappy. If we minimise the pain they cause, we maximise our pleasure.

Secular moderns are so Epicurean that we might not hear this thunderclap. He didn't stress perfectionism or fine discriminations in pleasure – sending back the soup. He understood what the Buddhists call samsara, the suffering of endless craving. Pleasures are poisoned when we require that they do not end. So, for example, it is natural to enjoy sex, but sex will make you unhappy if you hope to possess your lover for all time.

Epicurus also seems uncannily modern in his attitude to parenting. Children are likely to bring at least as much pain as pleasure, he noted, so you might want to skip it. Modern couples who choose to be 'child-free' fit within the largely Epicurean culture we have today. Does it make sense to tell people to pursue their happiness and then expect them to take on decades of responsibility for other humans? Well, maybe, if you seek meaning. Our idea of meaning is something like the virtue embraced by the Stoics, who claimed it would bring you happiness.

Both the Stoics and the Epicureans understood that some good things are better than others. Thus you necessarily run into choices, and the need to forgo one good to protect or gain another. When you make those choices wisely, you'll be happier. But the Stoics think you'll be acting in line with a grand plan by a just grand designer, and the Epicureans don't.

As secular moderns, we pursue short-term happiness and achieve deeper pleasure in work well done. We seek the esteem of peers. It all makes sense in the light of science, which has documented that happiness for most of us arises from social ties – not the perfect rose garden or a closet of haute couture. Epicurus would not only appreciate the science, but was a big fan of friendship.

The Stoics and Epicureans diverge when it comes to politics. Epicurus thought politics brought only frustration. The Stoics believed that you should engage in politics as virtuously as you can. Here in the US where I live, half the country refrains from voting in non-presidential years, which seems Epicurean at heart.

Yet Epicurus was a democrat. In a garden on the outskirts of Athens, he set up a school scandalously open to women and slaves – a practice that his contemporaries saw as proof of his depravity. When Jefferson advocated education for American slaves, he might have had Epicurus in mind.

I imagine Epicurus would see far more consumption than necessary in my own American life and too little self-discipline. Above all, he wanted us to take responsibility for our choices. Here he is in his Letter to Menoeceus:

For it is not drinking bouts and continuous partying and enjoying boys and women, or consuming fish and the other dainties of an extravagant table, which produce the pleasant life, but sober calculation which searches out the reasons for every choice and avoidance and drives out the opinions which are the source of the greatest turmoil for men's souls.

Do you see the 'pursuit of happiness' as a tough research project and kick yourself when you're glum? You're Epicurean. We think of the Stoics as tougher, but they provided the comfort of faith. Accept your fate, they said. Epicurus said: It's a mess. Be smarter than the rest of them. How modern can you get?Aeon counter – do not remove

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons. Read the original article.


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