Bitcoin’s growing energy needs? Proof-of-gaming is better than that

Proof-of-gaming is a novel concept and it’s a simple one at that. According to Ulti Arena — a NFT marketplace for game assets, it’s the answer for the ongoing increase in bitcoin mining energy consumption problem. The more you play, the higher the chances of mining the next block of ULTI coin.

Bitcoin’s energy consumption problem

But first, let’s start with the problem. Was Elon Musk right to voice his concerns over the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining.”? By some measures, the cryptocurrency uses more energy than entire countries such as Sweden and Malaysia. According to Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index — in its peak, on May 10th 2021 — the upper bound consumption on that day was 510 TWh and the estimated consumption was 148 TWh.

Bitcoin mining energy consumption in TWh

For comparison, let’s take a look at the energy consumption of the entire nation of Sweden — while its production topped 160 TWh — the country’s usage has steadily declined in the last few years to less than 140 TWh.

Energy consumption and production in Sweden

Energy consumption is not the only problem that Bitcoin mining creates. NVidia has an ongoing shortage of GeForce RTX series graphics cards — which pressures the prices and also has gamers scrambling to find one to buy from the market.

Proof-of-gaming concept

Now here comes Proof-of-Gaming — an idea integrating gaming and blockchain technology. Key advantages of using proof-of-gaming:

· It is more energy efficient than Proof-of-Work (Bitcoin),

· Certainly more fair than Proof-of-Stake (Ethereum) — where it favours nodes that has the largest ETH stake in the network,

· It’s just more fun — playing game while mining and earning passive income? You bet.

The Proof-of-Gaming algorithm’s main idea is that gamers who spend time and GPU computational power should be the ones that could create and validate blockchain’s new blocks. The ULTI coins are the main cryptocurrency of Ulti Arena’s upcoming NFT marketplace and will also be the main mining goal for PoG.

To implement this, there are certain conditions that have to be met:

· The game should be difficult enough for bots to emulate and challenge human players, such as DOTA2 (while the Open.AI is increasingly masterful in handling human gamers — it’s not open-sourced and the team behind it are world-class computer and data scientists),

· The choice of team-play based games is obvious: in a complicated setting such as 5v5 gameplay, the number of combinations of strategies based on the different kinds of characters chosen, weaponry and playstyle are nearly infinite,

· Data from the game itself should be available to developers, one great example is Valve’s STEAM API,

· Mining algorithm should take minimal CPU/GPU/RAM resources to increase FPS while playing online games.

Rules for creating and validating blocks

Key parts of the validation algorithm are:

· Player’s rank in comparison with other players — see Valorant’s example,

· Time spent in game,

· Core playstyle metrics: APM (Actions-Per-Minute), Aggression, TeamPlay, Economics, Leveling Speed etc. — there will be a wide range of data that will be considered in the final model,

· Game difficulty

Valorant’s rank distribution 2020

ULTI Coin’s final mining blocks will be distributed to nodes. Every player will connect to games via Ulti Arena’s gaming client which in turn will provide necessary data for the hashing algorithm.

It will use the Zobrist hashing strategy which was originally devised for computer chess, Go, and other similar two player board games. It is a fast method to calculate and update a signature or key representing a given board position in Chess — but for more complex games it can also be optimized. The analogy is quite straightforward between a board game position and the configuration of MOBA games: types of pieces are analogous to characters chosen, and positions on the game board are analogous to player’s position in the game along with other player’s metrics and gametime that will be used.

Two features of the Zobrist key make it particularly useful amongst possible hash functions for representing gaming and mining configurations. Firstly, it maps similar configurations of player’s ranks and metrics to very different key values, and the distribution of key values is uniform across the space of all possible keys. Secondly, it can be calculated rapidly and incrementally.

A new block can be created as soon as someone finishes a game. The waiting time should be short, so that’s why most popular games will be chosen for mining ULTI Coins: DOTA2, LOL, Fornite etc. The distribution should be fair, so there should be a balance of reward between creators of new blocks and validators.

To protect against a 51% attack:

Gamers will of course have to buy gaming licences. In order to validate or create new blocks, certain metrics also have to be high: APM, win-rate and so on. So for the hackers to be able to flood the network with bots or gain 51% attack — they’d have to purchase a considerable amount of licenses and also be all high-ranked enough.

Coin supply

The blockchain network that it will run on will be Binance Smart Chain. The mining difficulty based on Zobrist hash functions will increase over time with diminishing retuns from number of hours played, ranks and quality of gameplay (playstyle, APM etc.)

Potential problems

While there will be many issues with PoG, the team behind Ulti Arena is sure it will have huge impact on how games are played. Not only Game Studios will be incentivised to participate in PoG, but also players will be rewarded for just playing games. One thing that comes to the team’s mind would be the increased possibility of an attack during a time when less people play those games. Still, DOTA2 or LoL are being played globally 24/7, so there should be sufficient number of gamers at all times. Voting will be possible for all ULTI Coins’ holders.

While the Ulti Arena’s PoG concept is original, its creator’s vision is pretty simple:

„We want to connect Game Development Studio, Artists and Developers along with Gamers all in one place — building a community for exchanging NFT game assets and also having fun playing games mining our coins” Duke Vu, CEO of Ulti Arena

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Ulti Arena is a NFT Marketplace and Community of Game Artists and Developers