30 years (I repeat, 30 years!) have passed since we all first got hooked on Megaman 2, somehow always failing to dodge the lasers on Quickman’s stage. Keeping with the topic of “dodging”, the legendary Super Dodge Ball was also released on NES 30 years ago. Talk about a thrilling game experience. Growing up in Los Angeles in a Japanese family, I actually called these two games Rockman 2 and Nekketsu-koko Dodgeball-bu, the latter of which literally translates as “Hot-Blood High School Dodgeball Club”. At the time, Japan was where all the hot new games were coming from, so no one was really surprised at a title like that for a game about kids playing a P.E. sport.
So here we are, in 2018, and all the tech world is buzzing about blockchain this and crypto that. What exactly is all this fuss about? What does this all mean to me, an aging gamer? And is this not a retro-game article? [Spoiler alert: no, but you’ll love the references]
The fact is, my generation has outgrown console video games. We remember them fondly, we feel obliged to buy the NES and SNES Classic collection titles, but deep down inside we have just outgrown these games. We now play mobile games on our smartphones or perhaps dab into online social games. Some brave few have stuck with their consoles, but more often than not they enjoy the games through network connection in a form of online console-gaming such as Fortnite or Call of Duty. There are people who do fantasy sports, which is a game, not a sport. Possibly e-sports, which is a sport, but also a game. Then, there are the ones that enjoy a quick game of blackjack at a table in Vegas, make multiple picks per race at the horse tracks, bet on the Dodgers to win the World Series (which must be retro-themed since they also last won…you guessed it! 30 years ago!), or go for the big win on a jackpot slot machine in Macau.
Well, I have done all that, and it requires about 20 different player accounts, not to mention the additional 20 or so membership cards, leaving me with roughly 40 centralized gaming identities. What if one consolidated gaming identity could permanently hold avatars, collectibles, milestone awards, and be an all-encompassing gaming experience.
Blockchain technology allows us to have a decentralized data system, where your digital avatars and collectibles can be stored and truly owned by the yourself. No more worrying about the operator of your favorite online/mobile game discontinuing their service.
Avatars are even more fun. Let’s say I have a “Lucky Frog” avatar earned from playing online games, and let’s say I name him “Bob”. In a connected gaming ecosystem, Bob could “bring me luck” by giving me access to extra game modes in other online games. When playing online FPS games, Bob can give my game character an “amphibian bonus” allowing for faster movement in wet environments like swamps. Bob can also develop and get stronger with the more games I play, much in the same way my Pokemon would grow and learn new attacks. Finally, imagine having a battle area for all these avatars, where Bob can face off with the likes of Thanos, Crash Bandicoot, or Jaime Lannister. There is so much that can be done, and it can work across gaming platforms. Looks like the movie Ready Player One, but for real.
Cross-platform interaction is great for game players like myself that keep getting older and keep outgrowing games. All my Duck Hunt shooting records, all the dog tags collected in Metal Gear Solid 2, all the fantasy football championships, and all the spins played on a slot machine in Las Vegas last week, just imagining that all of these could be tied together in my personally owned gaming identity in any shape or form is exciting enough for me. While the how and who are still up for grabs, we can rest assured that what blockchain brings to gaming is a new level of connectivity and continuity.
It has been 30 long years since my first “hooked on gaming” experience, but instead of struggling with the laser technology created by the evil Dr. Wily, there are teams creating a technology that will bring all the gaming experiences together. Is there any way to outgrow that? Most likely not, but only time will tell. The only certainty is that my lucky frog Bob will be standing with me for the ride.