Ready Player One: the Prequel

How Blockchain Could Expedite the OASIS

Image courtesy of readyplayeronemovie.com

Obligatory Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor, and none of this advice should be taken without speaking to a qualified professional first. Further, do NOT invest more than you’re willing to lose, and do your own research first.

Ready Player One is not just a great book and a highly entertaining movie full of pop-culture references made for Gen Xers and Millennials — it’s a look into humanity’s future should gaming become the world’s number one source of economic gain.

Set in the year 2045, the story postulates that the world economy hinges on gaming, specifically gaming in the OASIS, a virtual reality system where players live the majority of their waking hours through avatars they’ve created. There, they compete in hundreds of different games and challenges, where coins earned translate to better in-game rewards and real-life riches.

While the year 2045 is just 27 years from now, it may seem difficult to imagine society progressing towards a world economy based on a video game. Currently, gaming is done through individual and centralized consoles. Video game companies control the rights to their tech and often get exclusive rights to games (for instance, the new Spiderman game is exclusive to Playstation 4). Despite this trend, larger gaming companies are beginning to allow players to interact cross-platform:

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This is a step in the right direction, but there is one major hurdle that must be jumped before we actually progress towards an OASIS-style system, and that’s the fact that hours of work in any given video game are worthless once the game is completed. Gaming items such as weapons and armor, in-game currency like gems or coins, all these are locked into the video game gathering dust on the proverbial shelf.

To actually have a functioning OASIS, gamers would need to be able to transport those in-game items to other games, and even be able to “cash-out” into real-world economic systems. Sounds super futuristic, doesn’t it? It’s actually a bit closer than you may think.

Neon District and SpacePirate Games are two up-and-coming games that understand the value of cross-platform play as a means of evolving the gaming sector. By using blockchain technology and “NFTs” or “non-fungible tokens,” these two games plan to allow gamers to use the same avatar, items, and in-game currency back-and-forth between either game (for more detail on this, check out SpacePirate Games’ article here, and for a detailed overview of Neon District the game, check out their article here).

This blockchain/NFTs line of thinking is much more than theory. In a recent tweet, YT of Neon District highlighted a new piece of tech from Ecomi that uses AR and a credit-card style digital wallet to store and display game items based on NFTs:

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With this sort of technology, the OASIS may not be as far off as we’d like to think. As of 2016, the gaming industry is a $91 billion market that is continuing to boom. Some researchers say it could reach $108.9 billion by the end of 2017, meaning the gaming industry will have officially surpassed the US film industry.

This growth hasn’t gone unnoticed by retail giants like Amazon, who purchased Twitch, the world’s largest game live streaming platform, for nearly $1 billion (for more stats like these, check out my article on gaming here). As the industry continues to boom, all it would take for an OASIS to be created is for more games and gaming companies like Neon District and SpacePirate Games to allow interoperability.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain-based partnerships of this scale aren’t new either — Refereum has already teamed up with Unity and Twitch, and Ecomi has employed Alfred R. Kahn, the gentleman behind “Pocket Monsters” rebrand to the beloved series “Pokemon.”

So what does all of this mean for you? Why should you care about these developments? I have several reasons:

  • As a gamer, you should care about blockchain and NFT advancements because it gives you the chance to make real income from gaming — a pastime that has traditionally been viewed as a waste of time
  • As a developer, it gives you more credibility as an artist. Code and gaming have made an excellent argument for being art now
  • As a gaming company, you have first-mover advantage. Very few people are working on this type of advancement, and the early birds will get the worm
  • As an investor, you have the opportunity to back a brand new global economy. Gaming will take the world by force, and companies will care more about digital assets than physical ones in the near future. How will you be involved?

To stay in the know, I’d recommend following Neon District, SpacePirate Games, and YT on Medium and Twitter. If you’d like to get a glimpse at the genius behind these games, head on over to neondistrict.io and chat with their AI “COG” — the AI that until recently held the keys to a cryptographic puzzle. Finally, if you want to get really excited about all these new advancements in gaming, check out the Neon District trailer below. There are only great things in store for the future of NFTs, blockchain, and video games!

https://medium.com/media/187bd6ba2e81a2d0c894ca865f9fd9fd/href

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Ready Player One: the Prequel was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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