What happens when one of the world’s oldest games meets one of the world’s newest technology? A group of students from Berlin Technical University tried to find out by integrating the game of chess into the Ethereum blockchain network. The goal of their project was to experiment with various Ethereum development programs using the game as the testing ground. This is to see if games can be played on a decentralized platform instead of a third party platform with their servers in control. They can also monetize the model like buy runescape accounts to generate some revenue or can sell the copyright to any other gaming giant.

Background of the Project

The project was implemented by Dr. Christian Reitwiessner of the Ethereum Foundation and a group of IT students from the university. Together, they decided to use chess as the main testing tool because turn-based games like chess can emulate the way smart contracts transact.

According to team member Paul Grau, they likened the game of chess as the main smart contract with the rules considered as the terms of the smart contract kept in a library. What makes the Ethereum network a great place to host the game is because it restricts transactions only on the said game without any outside interference-- just like a smart contract transaction.

According to Grau, most online games are hosted by a third party platform that will get the information of all of its players and also collect money for certain features. Of course, this means that gamers have to trust the third party host that everything is transparent and legitimate. If the platform shuts down, everything goes down with it.

Theoretically, a game in a decentralized network such as Ethereum eliminates all of those trust issues. In a decentralized network, there is no need for a third party platform to maintain or upgrade the server. Everything is done in the blockchain and transactions are done through a peer-to-peer network. This means that every transaction and every move in the game is transparent. No one can take your money or hack the servers.

The Mechanics of the Experiment

As mentioned above, the game itself is the smart contract. The entities involved are the players, the board, the pieces, and the possible outcomes or moves made by the players. Computations and data will be used for determining the rules to win, lose, and overall result of the game. The smart contract is then broken down into three libraries namely the ChessLogic for the rules, Auth for signature validation, and Elo for scoring. The team has even considered putting a feature for betting.  

The Bottomline

While the Ethereum network is an amazing place to hold gaming, there are challenges when handling this kind of technology. For instance, the verification of the game’s ending is very difficult and may cost a lot of money. The verification of all moves is also quite a challenge because these kinds of calculations are outside the boundaries of the blockchain. However, Grau states that there are definitely some ways to implement the game in a way that there is no need for all the tedious computations that blockchain can’t do.

That said, Grau is positive that he and his team are able to successfully build games on the Ethereum blockchain network. It will just take some time and a lot of effort.