The dream of all young children (and many older men) to make a living playing video games is coming true. The recent launch of HunterCoin and the development of VoidSpace, games that reward players in digital currency instead of virtual princesses or gold stars point to a future where the ranking of a marker can be obtained in dollars and pounds sterling. , euros and yen.

The story of the millionaire (virtual) real estate agent …

Digital currencies have been slowly gaining in maturity both in terms of their functionality and the financial infrastructure that allows them to be used as a credible alternative to non-virtual fiat currency. Although Bitcoin, the first and best known of the cryptocurrencies, was created in 2009, there have been forms of virtual currency used in video games for over 15 years. Ultima Online of 1997 was the first notable attempt to incorporate a large-scale virtual economy into a game. Players could collect gold coins by undertaking missions, fighting monsters and finding treasures and spending them on armor, weapons or real estate. This was an early incarnation of a virtual currency as it existed purely within the game, although it reflected the real world economy to the point that the Ultima currency experienced inflation as a result of the game mechanics which ensured that there was an endless supply of monsters to kill and therefore gold coins to collect.

Launched in 1999, EverQuest took a virtual currency game a step further, allowing players to exchange virtual goods with each other within the game and even though the game designer also banned selling virtual items on eBay. In a real-world phenomenon that was explored with entertainment in Neal Stephenson’s 2011 novel Reamde, Chinese players or “gold farmers” were employed to play EverQuest and other such games in time. complete with the goal of earning experience points to improve your characters. making them more powerful and sought after. These characters would be sold on eBay to Western players who were unwilling or unable to devote hours to level up their own characters. Based on the calculated exchange rate of EverQuest currency as a result of real-world trade, Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and an expert on virtual currencies, estimated that in 2002 EverQuest was the 77th richest country in the world, somewhere between Russia and Bulgaria and its GDP per capita was higher than that of the People’s Republic of China and India.

Launched in 2003 and having reached one million regular users in 2014, Second Life is perhaps the most comprehensive example of a virtual economy to date when it comes to the virtual currency, the Linden Dollar, which it can be used to buy or sell goods and services within the game. exchange for real world currencies using market-based stock exchanges. $ 3.2 billion in virtual gaming transactions were recorded in virtual goods over the ten years between 2002-13 and Second Life has become a marketplace where players and businesses were able to design, promote and sell the content they created. In 2006, Ailin Graef became Second Life’s first millionaire when she turned an initial investment of $ 9.95 into more than $ 1 million in 2.5 years through the purchase, sale and exchange of virtual real estate. to other players. Examples like Ailin are the exception to the rule, however, only 233 users registered more than $ 5,000 in 2009 for Second Life activities.

How to pay in dollars for asteroid mining …

Until now, the ability to generate non-virtual cash in video games has been secondary design, as the player must go through unauthorized channels to exchange their virtual loot or must have some degree of real-world creative skill or business vision. which could be exchanged for cash. This could change with the advent of video games that are built from the beginning around the “plumbing” of recognized digital currency platforms. The approach HunterCoin has taken is to “gamify” what is usually the rather technical and automated process of creating digital currency. Unlike real-world currencies that appear when printed by a central bank, digital currencies are created “mined” by users. The underlying source code for a particular digital currency that allows it to function is called a blockchain, a decentralized online public book that records all transactions and currency exchanges between individuals. Because digital currency is nothing more than intangible data, it is more prone to fraud than physical currency, as it is possible to double a unit of currency thus causing inflation or altering the value of a transaction after having done so for get personal benefits. To ensure that this does not happen, the blockchain is “controlled” by volunteers or “miners” who test the validity of each transaction that is made, so that, with the help of specialized hardware and software, they say that the data has not been manipulated. This is an automatic process for mining software, although it is time consuming and involves a lot of processing power from your computer. To reward a miner for verifying a transaction, the blockchain releases a new digital currency unit and rewards them with it as an incentive to maintain network maintenance, thus creating digital currency. Because it can take several days to years for a person to successfully extract a coin, user groups combine their resources into a mining “pool,” using the joint processing power of their computers to extract coins faster.

The HunterCoin game is within this blockchain for a digital currency also called HunterCoin. Playing replaces the automated process of digital currency exploitation and, for the first time, turns it into a manual and without the need for expensive hardware. Through strategy, time and teamwork, players venture into a map in search of coins and find some and return safely to their base (other teams are trying to stop them and steal them). los) can withdraw their coins by depositing in their own digital wallet, usually an application designed to make and receive digital payments. 10% of the value of coins deposited by players goes to miners who maintain the HunterCoin blockchain plus a small percentage of coins lost when a player kills and their coins are dropped. While the game’s graphics are basic and significant rewards take a long time to accumulate HunterCoin is an experiment that can be considered as the first video game with built-in monetary reward as its main feature.

While still in development, VoidSpace is a more polished approach to gaming in a functioning economy. VoidSpace, a massive online multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), is part of a space where players explore an ever-growing universe, undermining natural resources such as asteroids and exchanging them for merchandise with other players with the goal of building their own galactic empire. Players will be rewarded for mining on DogeCoin, a more established form of digital currency that is currently widely used for micropayments on various social networking sites. DogeCoin will also be the currency of player-to-player trading between players and the means to shop within the game. Like HunterCoin, DogeCoin is a legitimate and fully functioning digital currency and, like HunterCoin, can be exchanged for both digital and real fiat currencies in exchanges like Poloniex.

The future of video games?

While these are early days in terms of quality, the launch of HunterCoin and VoidSpace is an interesting indication of what the next evolution of the games could be. MMORPGs are currently considered as ways to model outbreaks of epidemics as a result of how the player’s reactions to an involuntary plague reflected difficult-to-model aspects of human behavior in the face of real-world outbreaks. It could be assumed that eventually the game’s virtual economies could be used as models to test economic theories and develop responses to massive failures based on observations of how players use real-value digital currency. It is also a good test of the functionality and possible applications of digital currencies that promise to go beyond simple exchange vehicles and, for example, into exciting areas of personal digital ownership. Meanwhile, players now have the means to translate hours in front of a screen into digital currency and then into dollars, pounds sterling, euros or yen.

But before leaving the daily work …

… it is worth mentioning the current exchange rates. It is estimated that a player could comfortably recoup their initial 1,005 HunterCoin (HUC) registration fee to join HunterCoin in the game on a game day. Currently HUC cannot be changed directly to USD, it has to become a more established digital currency like Bitcoin. At the time of writing the exchange rate from HUC to Bitcoin (BC) is 0.00001900, while the exchange rate from BC to USD is $ 384.24. 1 HUC changed to BC and then to USD, before considering any transaction fees, would be equivalent to … $ 0.01 USD. That’s not to say that as a player becomes more skilled they can’t grow their virtual CoinHunters team and maybe use some “bot” programs that will automatically play the game under the guise of another player and earn coins as well. for them. but I think it’s safe to say that, for now, even efforts like this can only really produce enough change for a daily McDonalds. Unless players are willing to indulge in intrusive advertising to the game, share personal data, or join a game such as CoinHunter that is based on the Bitcoin blockchain, the rewards are unlikely to be more than micropayments. for casual players. And maybe that’s good, because surely, if you’re paid for something, it’s no longer a game?