Most of us understand the tremendous value of blockchain technology, but it continues to surprise me that blockchain’s inherent strengths are often overlooked. We can, for example, leverage blockchain to provide transparency and to prove fairness in gaming and eSports.  

How it works

When using blockchain to prove fairness in a game or contest, one must first establish the rules on-chain. This should include the timing window for entry, the decision algorithm or smart contract and the future timing of the decision itself. This will establish a framework for independent verification of results. 

Next, the entries must be placed on-chain either individually or in a batch. This will establish the contest’s data, from which the decision will be made. Finally, the execution of the decision or the selection of a winner will occur based on the ruleset established at the beginning of the contest.

This, of course, requires that a number of fundamental capabilities are available on your selected blockchain. In particular, you will need a reasonably scalable blockchain ledger, the ability to measure the value of the proof of all related transactions and optionally, for an automated result, a flexible and advanced smart contract platform. For example, you could use a private or hybrid blockchain, integrated with one or more public blockchain networks (e.g., Bitcoin or Ethereum) to meet these general requirements.

In experiments with this process, we were surprised to learn how well it allowed participants to independently determine and announce results.

An example

I had the idea of a provably fair contest system bouncing around in my head for a few years and wanted to demonstrate it in the real world. In January 2020, we had an AMA and wanted to have a fun contest for participants. For the prize, we used a hand-built mechanical keyboard which was used to write the first Dragonchain code.

We established the rules directly on-chain using Eternal.report. We included the entry list as well as a snippet of code so that anyone could determine the winner when the time was right.

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For the contest conclusion, the rules set a future Bitcoin block height of 613125 to determine a block hash from which the winner would be chosen. This block hash would be unpredictable to anyone, including the contest organizer. This would also provide transparency and independent measurable proof to all participants, showing that the system could not be gamed.

We intentionally set the Bitcoin block height to likely occur the next day to provide enough proof on-chain. However, this Bitcoin block defined in the rules was produced earlier than we expected, and much of the team was in meetings when the block was produced. 

The winner took to Telegram to ask the rest of the community if he was correct that he actually won. This was a testament to the process. Everyone was able to independently verify the results with no interaction from the team. It was refreshing that the entire decision was trustless and that everyone knew that it was impossible for anyone to predict, control or even influence the results.

Other applications

This use of the technology is widely applicable. In the world of online and decentralized gaming, there are many issues with trust and the possibility of manipulation, especially in tournaments and eSports where large monetary prizes are often at stake. 

These situations can be significantly improved with blockchain-based transparency. In such cases, a system can easily integrate the technology to provide things such as world seeds, individual spawn points or other critical game state decisions with provable and auditable unpredictability. The technique can also be applied to “roll” new characters and track their performance with the added ability to prove in the future that current character attributes are truly based on real events and gameplay. 

In speed runs, or other gameplay that relies on the trust that someone has no possibility of foreknowledge of a map or other conditions, this technology can allow anyone to independently audit results with its unparalleled level of transparency. Game developers can even apply provably fair technology directly within gameplay to provide continuous proof that the system is fair to all participants.

As the role of blockchain in gaming continues to grow, we should seek to use the technology to create more transparent and fair games and contest systems.

Joe Roets is the architect, CEO and founder of Dragonchain


This article was published through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of connections, collaboration and thought leadership. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.

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