from the world's big
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?
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.
Photo: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images.
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
Fans look on during the FACEIT ECS Season 6 eSports finals between Astralis and MIBR on November 25, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
So far, 30 student teams have entered the Indy Autonomous Challenge, scheduled for October 2021.
- The Indy Autonomous Challenge will task student teams with developing self-driving software for race cars.
- The competition requires cars to complete 20 laps within 25 minutes, meaning cars would need to average about 110 mph.
- The organizers say they hope to advance the field of driverless cars and "inspire the next generation of STEM talent."
Indy Autonomous Challenge<p>Completing the race in 25 minutes means the cars will need to average about 110 miles per hour. So, while the race may end up being a bit slower than a typical Indy 500 competition, in which winners average speeds of over 160 mph, it's still set to be the fastest autonomous race featuring full-size cars.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is no human redundancy there," Matt Peak, managing director for Energy Systems Network, a nonprofit that develops technology for the automation and energy sectors, told the <a href="https://www.post-gazette.com/business/tech-news/2020/06/01/Indy-Autonomous-Challenge-Indy-500-Indianapolis-Motor-Speedway-Ansys-Aptiv-self-driving-cars/stories/202005280137" target="_blank">Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</a>. "Either your car makes this happen or smash into the wall you go."</p>
Illustration of the Indy Autonomous Challenge
Indy Autonomous Challenge<p>The Indy Autonomous Challenge <a href="https://www.indyautonomouschallenge.com/rules" target="_blank">describes</a> itself as a "past-the-post" competition, which "refers to a binary, objective, measurable performance rather than a subjective evaluation, judgement, or recognition."</p><p>This competition design was inspired by the 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge, which tasked teams with developing driverless cars and sending them along a 150-mile route in Southern California for a chance to win $1 million. But that prize went unclaimed, because within a few hours after starting, all the vehicles had suffered some kind of critical failure.</p>
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indy Autonomous Challenge<p>One factor that could prevent a similar outcome in the upcoming race is the ability to test-run cars on a virtual racetrack. The simulation software company Ansys Inc. has already developed a model of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on which teams will test their algorithms as part of a series of qualifying rounds.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We can create, with physics, multiple real-life scenarios that are reflective of the real world," Ansys President Ajei Gopal told <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/autonomous-vehicles-to-race-at-indianapolis-motor-speedway-11595237401?mod=e2tw" target="_blank">The Wall Street Journal</a>. "We can use that to train the AI, so it starts to come up to speed."</p><p>Still, the race could reveal that self-driving cars aren't quite ready to race at speeds of over 110 mph. After all, regular self-driving cars already face enough logistical and technical roadblocks, including <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53349313#:~:text=Tesla%20will%20be%20able%20to,no%20driver%20input%2C%20he%20said." target="_blank">crumbling infrastructure, communication issues</a> and the <a href="https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/would-you-ride-in-a-car-thats-programmed-to-kill-you" target="_self">fateful moral decisions driverless cars will have to make in split seconds</a>.</p>But the Indy Autonomous Challenge <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5da73021d0636f4ec706fa0a/t/5dc0680c41954d4ef41ec2b2/1572890638793/Indy+Autonomous+Challenge+Ruleset+-+v5NOV2019+%282%29.pdf" target="_blank">says</a> its main goal is to advance the industry, by challenging "students around the world to imagine, invent, and prove a new generation of automated vehicle (AV) software and inspire the next generation of STEM talent."
A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.
- A study at Harvard's McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
- Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system."
- Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
Challenging the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Mental Disorders: Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="41699c8c2cb2aee9271a36646e0bee7d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-8BDC7i8Yyw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This is a far cry from Howard Rusk's 1947 NY Times editorial calling for mental healt</p><p>h disorders to be treated similarly to physical disease (such as diabetes and cancer). This mindset—not attributable to Rusk alone; he was merely relaying the psychiatric currency of the time—has dominated the field for decades: mental anguish is a genetic and/or chemical-deficiency disorder that must be treated pharmacologically.</p><p>Even as psychiatry untethered from DSM categories, the field still used chemistry to validate its existence. Psychotherapy, arguably the most efficient means for managing much of our anxiety and depression, is time- and labor-intensive. Counseling requires an empathetic and wizened ear to guide the patient to do the work. Ingesting a pill to do that work for you is more seductive, and easier. As Davis writes, even though the industry abandoned the DSM, it continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system." </p><p>That language has infiltrated public consciousness. The team at McLean surveyed 279 patients seeking acute treatment for depression. As they note, the causes of psychological distress have constantly shifted over the millennia: humoral imbalance in the ancient world; spiritual possession in medieval times; early childhood experiences around the time of Freud; maladaptive thought patterns dominant in the latter half of last century. While the team found that psychosocial explanations remain popular, biogenetic explanations (such as the chemical imbalance theory) are becoming more prominent. </p><p>Interestingly, the 80 people Davis interviewed for his book predominantly relied on biogenetic explanations. Instead of doctors diagnosing patients, as you might expect, they increasingly serve to confirm what patients come in suspecting. Patients arrive at medical offices confident in their self-diagnoses. They believe a pill is the best course of treatment, largely because they saw an advertisement or listened to a friend. Doctors too often oblige without further curiosity as to the reasons for their distress. </p>
Image: Illustration Forest / Shutterstock<p>While medicalizing mental health softens the stigma of depression—if a disorder is inheritable, it was never really your fault—it also disempowers the patient. The team at McLean writes,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"More recent studies indicate that participants who are told that their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance or genetic abnormality expect to have depression for a longer period, report more depressive symptoms, and feel they have less control over their negative emotions."</p><p>Davis points out the language used by direct-to-consumer advertising prevalent in America. Doctors, media, and advertising agencies converge around common messages, such as everyday blues is a "real medical condition," everyone is susceptible to clinical depression, and drugs correct underlying somatic conditions that you never consciously control. He continues,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Your inner life and evaluative stance are of marginal, if any, relevance; counseling or psychotherapy aimed at self-insight would serve little purpose." </p><p>The McLean team discovered a similar phenomenon: patients expect little from psychotherapy and a lot from pills. When depression is treated as the result of an internal and immutable essence instead of environmental conditions, behavioral changes are not expected to make much difference. Chemistry rules the popular imagination.</p>