The best way to mine for cryptocurrency has been a topic of debate since the creation of the first altcoin. There are many variations of proof-of-work, wherein computers mine for coins by crunching numbers, while others advocate a proof-of-stake system in which new coins go to the holders. Some also incentivize things like recycling, folding proteins to cure diseases, and generating solar power.
Blockchain games incentivize playing. Coins newly generated or taken from fees can be redistributed via gameplay to the players, giving them a chance to earn cryptocurrency. When game items are on the blockchain, it’s easy to sell your loot for cryptocurrency, as well, all of which can ultimately be exchanged for cash.
Playtime can even be used to secure a blockchain network, a process known as “proof-of-play.” This is where the right to confirm transactions and build the next block goes to the winner of the game, who subsequently earns the block reward. This unique way of generating consensus incentivizes imagination and fun, as opposed to burning electricity or hoarding money.
Many battles have been fought over blockchain-based assets. Some of the first were in the worlds of Huntercoin and Motocoin—where newly-minted coins were fought over by the players—and token economics is still employed in blockchain games to this day. But now the true ownership revolution also has blockchain gaming fans grinding for weapons, armor, and other items on the blockchain known as “NFTs.”
Blockchain games commonly facilitate this in a provably fair way, meaning players know they cannot be cheated out of a prize. Random loot drops, for example, can base their random number generators on recent block hashes, and smart contracts can enforce this and other schemes.
However, you’re usually not securing blocks in a blockchain in the process. The purpose for many players is just to earn money, and there are risks associated with proof-of-play. That hasn’t stopped some members of the community from experimenting, however.
Motocoin was the first game to try it. Another legendary tale, players raced through randomly-generated maps on a motorcycle to find the namesake coin. The winner would submit his or her chosen route to the network to receive newly-minted MOTO; the level got harder or easier if someone beat it faster or slower than the targeted 60 second block time.
Unfortunately, artificial intelligence ruined their adventure, with bots quickly taking over the mining network. Their only solution to prevent a possible 51% attack was to release the best bots to the public, so that everybody still had a stake in the system. To preserve the humanity of proof-of-play, a decentralized Turing Test would be required.
Human mining could also be used by decentralized MMOs to achieve self regulation of their ecosystems. If there are too few healers in a dungeon crawler, for example, they could be given increased rewards. To the extent that many game activities feel like jobs, maybe we should be paid for them.
One could even let players take on the role of NPCs, populating the universe with merchants, artisans and laborers who earn income for their operators. Those who provide unique, quality dialogue to enhance the storyline would receive feedback from questers further enhancing their profitability. This could effectively decentralize video game development itself.