The dream of every little boy (and many adult men) to make a living playing video games is closer to reality. The recent release of HunterCoin and VoidSpace in Development, games that reward players in digital currency rather than virtual princesses or gold stars, hints at a future in which someone’s score on the scoreboard could be rewarded in dollars, sterling, euros and yen .
The story of a millionaire (virtual) real estate agent …
Digital currencies are slowly becoming more mature, both in terms of functionality and in terms of financial infrastructure that allows them to be used as a credible alternative to the non-virtual fiat currency. Although Bitcoin, the first and most famous of the cryptocurrencies, was created in 2009, there are forms of virtual currencies that have been used in video games for more than 15 years. The 1997 Ultima Online was the first significant attempt to include a large-scale virtual economy in the game. Players could collect gold coins by doing missions, fighting monsters and finding treasure and spend them on armor, weapons or real estate. This was an early incarnation of virtual currency in that it existed exclusively within the game, although it reflected the real world economy to the point that Ultima currency experienced inflation as a result of game mechanics that ensured an endless supply of killing monsters and thus gold coins. to collect.
Released in 1999, EverQuest took it a step further by playing virtual currencies, allowing players to trade virtual goods with each other in the game and although the game’s designer banned them from selling virtual items to each other on eBay. In the real-world phenomenon that was amusingly explored in Neal Stephenson’s 2011 novel Reamde, Chinese gamers or ‘golden farmers’ were hired to play EverQuest and other similar games full-time with the goal of gaining experience points to improve their characters. making them more powerful and sought after. These characters would then be sold on eBay to Western players who were unwilling or unable to invest hours to improve their characters. Based on the calculated EverQuest exchange rate as a result of real-world trading, Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and a virtual currency expert, estimated that in 2002 EverQuest was the 77th richest country in the world, somewhere between Russia and Bulgaria and its GDP. per capita it was larger than the People’s Republic of China and India.
Launched in 2003 and reaching 1 million regular users by 2014, Second Life is perhaps the most complete example of a virtual economy to date in which it is a virtual currency, the Linden Dollar, that can be used to buy or sell goods and services in the game. be exchanged for real world currencies through market exchanges. Recorded $ 3.2 billion in in-game virtual goods transactions in the 10 years between 2002-13, Second Life became a market where players and companies alike could design, promote and sell the content they created. Real estate was a particularly lucrative commodity for trade, in 2006 Ailin Graef became a 1st Second Life millionaire when she turned an initial investment of $ 9.95 into over $ 1 million over 2.5 years through buying, selling and trading virtual real estate to other players . Examples such as Ailin are an exception to the rule, however, only 233 users were recorded who earned more than $ 5,000 from Second Life activities in 2009.
How to be paid in dollars for asteroid mining …
To date, the ability to generate non-virtual cash in video games has been of secondary design, the player must go through unauthorized channels to exchange his virtual booty or have to possess some degree of creative skill or business ability in the real world. which could be traded for cash. This could change with the advent of video games that are fundamentally built around the ‘waterworks’ of recognized digital currency platforms. The approach HunterCoin has taken is to ‘gamify’ what is typically a rather technical and automated process of creating digital currency. Unlike real currencies, which are created when printed by the central bank, digital currencies are created by users ‘holes’. The basic source code of a particular digital currency that allows it to function is called the blockchain, an online decentralized public ledger that records all transactions and currency exchanges between individuals. Since digital currency is nothing but intangible data, it is more prone to fraud than physical currency because it is possible to duplicate a unit of currency and thus cause inflation or change the value of a transaction after it is done for personal gain. To ensure that this does not happen, the blockchain is ‘supervised’ by volunteers or ‘miners’ who test the validity of each transaction made while using specialized hardware and software to ensure that the data is not unauthorized. This is an automated process for miners’ software, albeit extremely time consuming, which involves the high processing power of their computer. To reward the miner for verifying the transaction, the blockchain releases a new unit of digital currency and rewards them with it as an incentive to continue to maintain the network, thus creating a digital currency. Because it can take anything from a few days to years for an individual to successfully dig up coins, user groups combine their resources into a mining ‘pool’, using the combined processing power of their computers to speed up coin mining.
The HunterCoin game is located within such a blockchain for digital currency also called HunterCoin. The act of playing the game replaces the automated digital currency mining process and for the first time makes it manual and without the need for expensive hardware. Using strategy, time and teamwork, players embark on a map in search of coins, and when they find them and return safely to their base (other teams are there trying to stop them and steal their coins), they can cash their coins by depositing your digital wallet, usually an application designed to make and receive digital payments. 10% of the value of all coins deposited by players goes to the miners who maintain the HunterCoin blockchain plus a small percentage of all coins lost when the player is killed and their coins fall out. Although game graphics are basic and significant rewards take time to accumulate, HunterCoin is an experiment that could be considered the first video game with a built-in cash prize as a primary feature.
Although still in development, VoidSpace is a more refined approach to gaming in a functional economy. VoidSpace, an online multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), is set in a space where players explore an ever-growing universe, digging up natural resources such as asteroids and exchanging them for goods with other players to build their own galactic empire. Players will be rewarded for mining at DogeCoin, a well-established form of digital currency that is currently widely used for micro payments on various social media sites. DogeCoin will also be the currency of in-game trading between players and in-game means of purchase. Like HunterCoin, DogeCoin is a legitimate and fully functional digital currency and like HunterCoin can be traded for both digital and real fiat currencies on stock exchanges like Poloniex.
The future of video games?
Although the early days are in terms of quality, the release of HunterCoin and VoidSpace is an interesting indicator of what the next evolution of games could be. MMORPGs are currently being considered as ways to model epidemic outbreaks as a result of players ’reactions to unintentional plague reflecting recorded aspects of human behavior that are difficult to model for real-world epidemics. One might assume that in the end virtual economies in the game could be used as models to test economic theories and develop responses to huge failures based on observations of how players use real-value digital currency. It is also a good test for the functionality and potential applications of digital currencies that promise to move beyond mere means of exchange to exciting areas of personal digital ownership, for example. Meanwhile, players now have the means to translate hours in front of the screen into digital currency and then into dollars, sterling, euros or yen.
But before you leave your daily job …
… it is worth mentioning the current courses. It is estimated that a player could comfortably reimburse their initial registration of 1,005 HunterCoin (HUC) to join the HunterCoin game during one day of play. Currently, HUC cannot be exchanged directly into USD, it needs to be converted into a common digital currency such as Bitcoin. At the time of writing, the HUC exchange rate for Bitcoin (BC) is 0.00001900, while the BC exchange rate for USD is 384.24 USD. 1 HUC traded in BC and then in USD, before any transaction fees were taken into account, would be equal to … 0.01 USD. This is not to say that as a player becomes more adept, he cannot increase his team of virtual CoinHunters and perhaps hire several ‘bot’ programs that would automatically play the game under the guise of another player and earn money for them. but I think it is safe to say that at the moment even such efforts can only realistically result in enough change for the daily McDonalds. Unless players are willing to engage in intrusive in-game advertising, share personal information, or join a game like CoinHunter built on the Bitcoin blockchain, the rewards are unlikely to ever be more than micro-payments for casual players. And maybe this is a good thing, because surely if you get paid for something, it stops being a game?