Traditional gaming companies have long disillusioned the user by storing their digital in-game items in inaccessible data silos. Ask yourself this: how much of your in-game assets are actually yours? Is your diamond sword uniquely yours, and not just a carbon copy? Do you really own it if you can’t exchange it for real money?
To battle this huge issue, gamers should support NFT-powered games to ensure consumer autonomy and encourage grassroots in-game economies.
Non-fungible tokens empower gamers
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are essentially programmable ownership certificates representing unique in-game items (Zeilinger 2018, 13). Powered by blockchain technology (the stuff behind Bitcoin), NFTs enable the linking of digital assets to users by recording the unique bytes of individual media files. These tokens have powerful in-game economic implications, allowing items to be traded freely, exchanged for real cash, and for players to truly own their items. Moreover, the items are uniquely linked to your account, meaning you can securely store your assets without fear of theft.
Previously, players were like servants, paying and labouring for the gaming companies - the lords of the land. A beautiful metaphor by game commentator, Venture Beat: “These walled gardens generate money for the game company, and its shareholders, but nothing goes to the players. Those walled gardens could make the rules and kick out the players who broke the rules.” And when they leave, players don’t even get to take the things they bought (DeanBeat 2021).
NFTs can also help form a single digital identity for users, across games (Ledger 2021). You can move your points, badges, skins, and other in-game items across games, thereby achieving a more unified gaming experience.
By financializing digital items through tokens, whole new dimensions of the gaming industry are opened up. Players can truly earn money from playing games, whether it’s beating levels, hoarding rare items and selling them in in-game marketplaces, or developing mini-games inside of games and charging ticket/subscription fees (Jones 2021). Gaming ecosystems will thrive as players are now monetarily incentivized to build open-source platforms and improve game code. Players get rewarded ‘governance tokens’ (kinda like equity) for their contribution to the ecosystem.
From now on, gaming can actually be a full-time career.
In-game assets can now even be used as financial collateral for loans, and indicators of healthy credit ratings! This is already being experimented with in decentralized finance applications such as Aavegotchi, Tinlake, and NFTX.
The metaverse is on the horizon
This transition of our professional and domestic lives to the virtual world was catalyzed by the COVID-19 lockdowns. With the long-term development of immersive virtual reality, the virtual world, known as the metaverse, can become a second reality. Think Ready Player One and the Matrix. Private ownership and virtual economies will be fundamental to enabling this vision. Non-fungible tokens in the gaming industry are the first stepping stone to realizing this online utopia, not just for gamers but for everyone.
For example, Facebook Horizon is in the works and will enable people to ‘live’ in the virtual world where they can watch movies with friends, play games together, build houses, and make art.
Sound the war horn
Calling all gamers to arms I repeat, plug in your neon keyboards, adorn your headphones, and wield your mice! It is time to fight for your rights. Back NFT-enabled gaming companies by joining their games, joining communities, and engaging in discussions. United across the digital web, it is our duty to encourage the development and adoption of NFT games for ourselves and gamers in the future.
"Nifty Gateway". 2021. https://niftygateway.com/
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Community, DAO. 2021. "Flamingo NFT Decentralized Autonomous Organization". Docs.Flamingodao.Xyz. https://docs.flamingodao.xyz/.
Dionisio, John David N., William G. Burns III, and Richard Gilbert. 2013. "3D Virtual Worlds And The Metaverse". ACM Computing Surveys 45 (3): 1-38. doi:10.1145/2480741.2480751.
European Commission, Mapping the Creative Value Chains, a study of economy of culture in the digital age (2017)
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Jones, Elton. 2021. "'Axie Infinity' Is The Perfect NFT Game For 'Pokémon' Fanatics". One37pm.Com. https://www.one37pm.com/gaming/interviews/axie-infinity-nft-eth-blockchain-games.
NFTs: The Next Gaming Revolution?. 2021. Ledger. https://www.ledger.com/academy/nfts-the-next-gaming-revolution.
Nonfungible.com. 2021. CryptoPunks - Market Sales History. [online] Available at: <https://nonfungible.com/market/history/cryptopunks?filter=nftTicker%3D%25CF%25BE&filter=saleType%3D&length=10&sort=blockTimestamp%3Ddesc&start=0> [Accessed 5 March 2021].
Rangwala, Mohammed M. "Secure Digital Provenance: Challenges and a New Design." Order No. 1567619, Purdue University, 2014. https://proxy.library.upenn.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.proxy.library.upenn.edu/dissertations-theses/secure-digital-provenance-challenges-new-design/docview/1622363212/se-2?accountid=14707.