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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.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
In more than a dozen countries as far apart as Portugal and Russia, 'Smith' is the most popular occupational surname
- 'Smith' is not just the most common surname in many English-speaking countries
- In local translations, it's also the most common occupational surname in a large part of Europe
- Ironically, Smiths are so ubiquitous today because smiths were so special a few centuries ago
Meet the Smiths, Millers, Priests and Imams - the most popular occupational surnames across Europe.
Image: Marcin Ciura<p>Although very few people are smiths by profession these days, there are millions of Smiths by surname the world over. It's the most popular surname in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the second most popular surname in Canada and the fifth most popular one in Ireland. And they're a thriving bunch, at least in the U.S.: the 2010 Census (1) counted 2,442,977 Americans called Smith, 2.8% more than in 2000.</p><p>Curiously, 'Smith' also is one of the most popular surnames across most of Europe –translated in the various local vernaculars, of course. This map shows the most common occupational surnames in each country. By colour-coding the professions, this map shows a remarkable pro-smith consistency across Europe – as well as some curious regional exceptions.</p>
‘Smith’ popular throughout Europe<p>'Smith', in all its variations, is the most popular occupational surname throughout Europe. Not just in the UK, but also in:</p> <ul><li>Belgium (<em>Desmet</em>) and Luxembourg, (<em>Schmitt</em>);</li> <li>France (<em>Lefebvre</em>), Italy (<em>Ferrari</em>) and Portugal (<em>Ferreira</em>);</li> <li>Slovenia (<em>Kovačič</em>), Croatia (<em>Kovačevič</em>), Hungary (<em>Kovács</em>), Slovakia (<em>Kováč</em>), Poland (<em>Kowalski</em>), Lithuania (<em>Kavaliauskas</em>), Latvia (<em>Kalējs</em>) and Belarus (<em>Kavalyov</em>);</li> <li>Estonia (<em>Sepp</em>); and</li> <li>Russia (<em>Kuznetsov</em>).</li></ul>
‘Miller’ on top in many Germanic-language countries<p>'Miller' is the most popular occupational surname in many Germanic-language countries, but also in Spain and Ukraine (perhaps because the grain in both countries is mainly in the plain):</p> <ul><li>There's <em>Müller</em> (in Germany and Switzerland), <em>M</em><em>ø</em><em>ller</em> (in Denmark and Norway) and <em>Möller</em> (Sweden);</li> <li><em>Molina</em> (in Spain – the map also shows the most popular surname in Catalonia/Catalan: <em>Ferrer</em>, i.e. 'Smith'); and</li> <li><em>Melnik</em> (in Ukraine).</li></ul>
Clergy surnames rule in the Balkans<p>Catholic clergy must remain celibate, so 'Priest' as a surname is rare to non-existent throughout Europe. Except in the Balkans, where Catholicism is largely absent. Here, the Orthodox and Islamic clergies have passed on the title from father to son, eventually as a surname, to popular effect. Orthodox clergy are addressed as <em>papa</em> or <em>pope</em> (which means 'father' – so the surname rather redundantly translates to 'father's son'). Islamic teachers or imams are known by the Turkish/Persian term <em>hodzha</em>. An overview:</p> <ul><li><em>Popov</em> (in Bulgaria), <em>Popovic</em> (in both Serbia and Montenegro), <em>Popovski</em> (in Macedonia);</li> <li><em>Popa</em> (in Romania); </li> <li><em>Papadopoulos</em> (in Greece); and</li> <li><em>Hodžić</em> (in Bosnia-Herzegovina), <em>Hoxha</em> (in both Kosovo and Albania).</li></ul>
Landowners and other professions<p>Austria and the Czech Republic have different national languages but are neighbours and share a lot of history. Could that explain why they have a similar most popular occupational surname, for 'landowner'?</p> <ul><li><em>Huber</em> (in Austria) and</li> <li><em>Dvořák</em> (in the Czech Republic).</li></ul> <p>Just four professions, that wraps up all but five countries on this map. Those five each have their very own most popular occupational surname:</p> <ul><li><em>Bakker</em> (in the Netherlands): 'Baker'</li> <li><em>Kinnunen</em> (in Finland): 'Skinner'</li> <li><em>Ceban</em> (in Moldova): 'Shepherd'</li> <li><em>Avci</em> (in Turkey): 'Hunter'</li> <li><em>Murphy</em> (in Ireland): 'Sea Warrior' </li></ul>
Even more Smiths<p>Judging from the popularity of these surnames, your generic European village of a few centuries ago really couldn't do without a smithy. It was a much more essential craft even than that of the miller (or the baker, who put the miller's flour to good use) – except in the Balkans, where spiritual sustenance apparently sated a greater need. On the outskirts of <em>Anytown, Europe</em> live the shepherd and the hunter, the skinner and the pirate.<br></p><p>A bit too simplistic? Perhaps not simplistic enough. This map could have been dominated by even more Smiths. As the original poster explains, he always picked the most frequent version of an occupational surname, even if multiple variants point to a more popular alternative. </p><p>In the Netherlands, for instance, people with the surnames <em>Smit, Smits, Smid, de Smit, Smet </em>and <em>Smith</em> collectively outnumber those with the surnames <em>Bakker, Bekker, de Bakker</em> and <em>Backer</em>. So, the Netherlands could be considered another win for 'Smith' – except that the variant <em>Bakker</em> is more frequent than any other single variant.</p><p>Same story in Germany: added up, there are more people named <em>Schmidt, Schmitt, Schmitz </em>and <em>Schmid</em> than <em>Müller</em>. Ditto for Spain: <em>Herrero, Herrera </em>and <em>Ferrer</em> together outnumber <em>Molina</em>. Also in Finland, where <em>Seppä</em>, <em>Seppälä</em> and <em>Seppänen</em> together have a higher count than <em>Kinnunen</em>. </p>
Smiths in other cultures<p>'Smith' was a crucial occupation in other cultures too, judging from the familiar ring it has in these languages:<br></p><ul><li><em></em><em>Demirci</em> (Turkish)</li><li><em>Hadad</em> (Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic)</li><li><em>Nalbani</em> (Albanian)</li><li><em>McGowan</em> (Gaelic)</li><li><em>Faber</em> (Latin)<span></span></li></ul>
Other most popular surnames<p>Take note, though: 'Smith' may be the most popular surname in in the Anglosphere, this map does not mean to show that its variants in French, Russian and other languages also are the most popular surnames in the countries marked grey. They are merely the most popular <em>occupational</em> surnames.<br></p><p>As this sample of most common ones for each country shows, surnames can refer to a host of other things. Personal qualities or physical attributes, for example:</p> <ul><li>Russia: <em>Smirnov</em> ('the quiet one')</li> <li>Turkey: <em>Yilmaz</em> ('unflinching')</li> <li>Hungary: <em>Nagy</em> ('big')</li> <li>Italy: <em>Rossi/Russo</em> ('red', in northern and southern Italy, respectively)</li></ul> <p>Another option: the origin of the name-bearer (be it a place or a person):</p> <ul><li>Sweden: <em>Andersson</em> ('son of Anders')</li> <li>Slovakia: <em>Horvath</em> ('Croat')</li> <li>Kosovo: <em>Krasniqi</em> (refers to the Krasniq tribe and their mountainous home region)</li> <li>Portugal: <em>Silva</em> ('woodland')</li> <li>Latvia: <em>Bērziņš</em> ('little birch tree')</li> <li>Estonia: <em>Tamm</em> ('oak')</li></ul> <p>But sometimes, even for the most popular ones, the exact origin of the surname is lost in time:</p> <ul><li>Spain: <em>Garcia</em> (originally Basque, possibly meaning 'young', 'bear' or 'young bear')</li> <li>Finland: <em>Korhonen</em> ('hard of hearing' or 'dim-witted'; 'village elder'; 'proud'; 'upright'). </li></ul>
Smith popularity theory<p>So why exactly is Smith – and not Miller, for example – the most popular surname in many English-speaking countries? The theory propounded by historian C.M. Matthews in <em>History Today</em> (July 1967) probably also holds for the other-language variants so popular throughout Europe:<br></p><blockquote>"The reason for (the) multiplicity (of the surname 'Smith') is not so much that metal-workers were numerous as that they were important and widespread. On the skill of the smith, both rich and poor depended for the most essential things of life, the tools of husbandry and the weapons of hunting and war. Every community in the land must have one, every castle, every manor; and so distinctive was his trade that he would seldom need another name".<em></em></blockquote><p>That does not mean all people with the surname have a forefather who forged iron into weapons and farm tools. Especially in North America, 'Smith' was adopted by many people precisely because it was already common – as a secret identity or to blend in, for example by natives, slaves and immigrants.</p>
A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.
- The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
- After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
- The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
Centrosaurus apertus fibula
Royal Ontario Museum<p>In the recent study, the team used a combination of techniques to analyze the fibula, including taking CT scans, casting the bone and studying thin slices of it under a microscope. The analysis suggested that the dinosaur likely suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects modern humans, typically young adults.</p><p>For further evidence, the team compared the damaged fibula to a healthy fibula from a dinosaur of the same species, and also to a fibula that belonged to a 19-year-old human who suffered from osteosarcoma. Both comparisons supported the osteosarcoma diagnosis.</p>
Evans et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage," Evans said in a <a href="https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/rare-malignant-cancer-diagnosed-in-a-dinosaur" target="_blank">press release</a>. "The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease."</p><p>The fossilized fibula was originally unearthed in a bonebed alongside the remains of dozens of other <em>Centrosaurus </em><em>apertus</em>, suggesting the dinosaur didn't die from cancer, but from a flood that swept it away with its herd.</p>
Dinosaur fibula; the tumor mass is depicted in yellow.
Royal Ontario Museum/McMaster University<p>The new study highlights how modern techniques can help scientists learn more about the evolutionary origins of modern diseases, like cancer. It also shows that dinosaurs suffered through some of the same terrestrial afflictions humans face today.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases," Evans said, "and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect."</p>
Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.