Games Community Group meeting - April 2023

Sandy Aggarwal - Hyperledger's MESIG gaming subgroup
18 April 2023

Table of contents

  1. Video
  2. Transcript

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I may have to move things around a little bit. Sometimes it becomes a little confusing as to which screen I'm showing. Do you happen to see my MESIG subgroup screen? Perfect! All right. I guess what I really like to discuss about today or present is here, it's basically as a part of the HyperLedger umbrella, like under the hyperledger, this is the media and entertainment subgroup that we actually have, and the gaming subgroup, which i'm showing here. Unfortunately, in terms of interactions, and you know, meeting cadences, we have seen mixed success recently...

I won't obviously read anything here line by line. But primarily, the concept is how can we promote use of DLT, or just to understand how we can really make use of blockchains in gaming. But before we can do that, before we can even get anywhere close to that, the most important things is that we really need to understand exactly how gaming works today. One of the most important things here is to not try to impose anything coming from, a crypto viewpoint, or a blockchain viewpoint, but really to seek to understand exactly how gaming actually works, and from that point of view possible avenues where we can have some sort of a nexus between blockchains and gaming in a way that provides utility to gaming. Not like: "let's just try to use the latest hype cycle. Let's just sort of gamify something", but really just to understand exactly how certain aspects in the gaming ecosystem work. So what we have done here as part of this, we started almost a year ago.

Primarily, the main motor here is to just learn and do. I guess we've been in the learning mode for a long time. I've actually been in touch with a bunch of other folks who very heavily invest in gaming site, and one of those people happen to be Rafael Brown. He's somebody who's also an indie developer. He's coming from a pretty strong background, being in Activision, and a bunch of other places working directly with John Karmac. Together with him we did a bunch of presentations specifically here. I'm going to bring up one of these presentations just for the sake of today's conversation.

Primarily, the whole underlying concept was demystify the metaverse, and like the path to the metaverse in terms how we are not there yet, and how we need to do a bunch of things before we can get there. Identity and individuals in the metaverse, community and social. And finally, like this was actually like a research presentation. And this is the one that I'm gonna bring here like for a quick 10 min overview. And we can just open the floor for some open questions. But before I go into this thing. I just dump some resources here, of people who've been working on a regular basis, but it's been gone on a low attendance sideway now.

We happen to be working on a research paper here. This is the research paper that has been accepted under Linux foundation as a mentorship project. And this is one of the projects where I'm actually really actively seeking a lot of help from individuals like yourselves. And what i'm hoping to do is get some help into developing that prototype game over the next few months so we can demonstrate concepts of identity and payments. It could be a web game. It could be a 2D game, a 2.5 game. It doesn't need to be like a full fledged or a metaverse sort of a game, but anything where we can cleanly demonstrate things. My personal favorite is something like return to Monkey island. I like nice point-and-click game, and we can have something like that to demonstrate this concept. But we can go and talk about those things later on. And then, by the way, please feel free to stop me and ask me any questions you might have here.

I don't again need to go in specific details here, but primarily, the whole idea is that we're going to define some game design. Come with that, and do the game development over the next few months, and then have the research paper which will really document the current landscape and findings in terms of recommendations of how to really use that. Quickly I'll mention, for example, I was in touch with Ian Jacobs at W3C, specifically in terms of web payments and stuff. I'm also trying to integrate elements of how we can have the standards, like the OpenWallet foundation standards. For example, we can have payment standards, for example. Can we extend the web payment standards to go into the platforms and/or the console things standards? Stuff like that? Are they any avenues where we can, as an industry, not be locked into specific platform payments systems. Like the typical notorious 30% cuts from the platforms, can we somehow, you know, make that more workable for different user sets? Even things like if you can have some shared identities between a different play of a different game and ecosystems, like if somebody buys a given game, for example, let's say, do they really have to buy a given game on the console and the PC at the same time, or different kind of platforms, or somehow how can we alleviate and reduce some of those friction points?

This was the actual project I submitted in the Linux foundation, which is being accepted for mentee applications. And this is where i'm hoping that we can work on this project. But then i'm also hoping and i'm actually actively seeking some funding from some other third parties where I can actually get someone to basically fund this research project. I mean, obviously, that's just a part of my head, for now I haven't really gotten any funding yet. But the only funding that's available officially as part of this project, obviously from the Linux foundation, is, I think, like a little stipend of 5-6,000, which will be given to the mentee who takes up this project to work in a part time mode.

Having said that. Let me actually quickly go through the presentation that we had actually. Here's the presentation that we had actually done. So Rafael and I had done this presentation back in November. I'm gonna have to traverse quickly through this, because I don't want to take the entire time on this. Again, a lot of things that i'm going to talk about here is going to be very much known to all of you. Please do stop me if you have any questions and if I'm going too fast or too slow. In summary this presentation was presented to the Morgan State Fintech Center in Miami, back in November something, and essentially the concept was to unhype the whole metaverse thing, as to what exactly are the components of the Metaverse, why we're not there yet, and what the minimum things that are gonna take for us to get there eventually when we get there.

Let me just do this in slideshow mode. Let's just quickly jump through this. Basically, the road to the Metaverse. What are the key components? As said, I'll keep going down here. So what is the metaverse? This is basically just all the different definitions for this audience to understands very well what the Metaverse is. This is like a very, very hypothetical concept for the time being. This is not there yet. Whether what will come out of it is one metaverse, the metaverse, nobody knows. But eventually, we're gonna get there one day. Maybe. All the different definitions from different places. But essentially the hope is that we can all be in the game, and be represented in such a manner, and pretty much like as we are in Ready Player One or Avatar or any of those kind of things. So that's what people most people think is the middle of this. And a lot of people think that they can probably just go in there like some sort of a store, and it's gonna become the metaverse. But obviously that's not the case. So we just want to clearly point out that the metaverse is not guaranteed. It's not there yet. It's not the current Internet. And it's gonna take a lot of iterations and different trials, and different things until we eventually get there.

This is where we talk about all the different components we have here in terms of basically the devices, the networking needs, game engines, social presence. You gotta have all the mixture of these components for the metaverse to eventually be there. And then there are other components which are not so much visible. This is where I specifically focus on things like identity systems. Of course we talk about interoperability and all that. But I want to clearly stay here that we have been trying to clarify a misconception a lot of people have in terms of interoperability: lots of people think that just because you can put something on the ledger, by definition it becomes interoperable just because it happens to be an NFT. And you all understand that's not the case. Just because you take an asset from one place, you can't make that interoperable unless the other game engine, the other platform, knows exactly how to handle that.

Also not so visible things, like paying systems. And this is something I'm specifically focusing on like identity and paying systems, and this not just necessarily from the point of view of the metaverse because obviously that's such a hazy, undefined term, the idea is that even in a gaming platform, how do we enable, for example, player-to-player payment systems. How do we enable some sort of a mechanism where we are not fully bound to the payment mechanism of the underlying platform and for example, you know you have any given game and I can make a payment to a core player. I can make a payment to somebody else. But then that deals into the allocation system. Can you also make a payment to an NPC, for argument's sake? If your NPC happens to be an AI driven character, can you make a payment to that thing? What about the compliance things? What about making sure you have no nefarious activity going on in there? So there's a whole bunch of other governance, and not so clear non functional requirements that come into play at the moment you talk about identity in payments and in all these contexts. And that's what we try to basically focus on.

Finally, here we really talk about the human computer interface, which all of you will understand very well. here the whole idea was about getting that audience understand what's the difference between 2D, 2.5D and 3D. A lot of people get confused by super Mario being a 3D, stuff like that. So this is what we basically just showed to folks over there. As to what these things are. 2S, and 2.5D here, and then you eventually get into 3D. Then we talk about the paradigms of user interfaces, XR being a combination of VR, AR, MR and other things. And then about spatial computing, and how we have a long way to go there.

Rachel Yager: I have a quick question about the payment and the identity. So the payments are basically the commerce, e-commerce, merchandising. What are the new things that you're looking into to do?

Let's use the example you were talking about earlier. You were talking about educational games in the Academia area. Hypothetically, let's say you have a game where students can actually learn something and they can make a micro payment to somebody who's selling some course online or maybe to import some sort of a lecture or something. One possible way to do that: you can make a payment to the platform and the person who's doing something will basically just get paid from that platform. But the other way of thinking about this is that you can also make a payment to the avatar. Let's say you happen to be a professor, and you have your avatar, you know, giving lectures in the gaming system, and you want to collect micro payments directly from different account students. A student doesn't really want to sign up on the whole platform. It's almost like, think about this as if you want to buy a single copy of your newspaper, and not really sign up to the whole Steam or Xbox monthly payment scheme. Can we enable micro payments from individual to individual? That other individual could be like just an avatar. They could be an NPC. Essentially just another character in the game.

Rachel Yager: Then identity will be also related to the scenario you mentioned.

Absolutely and very much so in the academia and the regulated environment, because unless you can identify the individuals, you don't know if there's any problematic activity going on. So the platforms could be in different flavors. You can have, for example, some flavor of a second life platform where it's all about some consenting adults, and you know it could be any kind of activity going on there, and it's completely click by consent in such a way that everybody is an adult there. But how do you make sure that somebody's adult? You gotta have some way to identify and authenticate people who are coming in there as adults. But if you have a platform where you wanna make sure that everything that's happening in the platform is regulated... like in the banking space, we very heavily lean on something called KYC. It's the "Know your customer" concept. So the same concept has to apply: Do you know who you're dealing with? That's why identity becomes a central aspect to that. And then, we basically need to find a way to do the mix of Web-based gaming, console gaming, and then mobile gaming, and everything just becomes a mishmash. Your identity could take you anywhere. You could, basically of course, have the same identity working across different places.

Rachel Yager: Okay, if i'm a player in the gaming environment in a gaming platform in a game, and I decided to buy something from an avatar, I can actually trace back to the provenance of the goods and the products, and also the legitimacy of what I'm purchasing because it was digitally processed.

Again, I think, we wouldn't necessarily need to have blockchains or DLTs for any of that stuff hypothetically, because honestly, like any payment you make or anything you buy from Steam today, you can easily have provenance of that. The only issue that we have today is that any purchase you make are then only limited to Steam spectrum. So the question is: can we open up a transactional thing across different platforms, or can we have a consortium where we all agree on all properties we can have for a given identity or given gamer tag? All they purchase, all the experiences that this individual went through, can be somehow collected and presented as one single thing. Hypothetically. you could have a student. They can do all gaming. They also learning across different platforms. They might decide: oh, if i'm actually in my learning environment, I want to show this to my school. But if i'm in my personal environment, with my pals, I don't want to show this to my school, because it's my personal life. That would be their individual choice. None of those demands that blockchains or anything, has to be there. The whole point here is that we just want to understand, at least from my perspective: how can we enable these kind of things between different ecosystems? Because, as we all understand, even today, even in a given same ecosystem, these don't work. For example, if you just take Xbox ecosystem, Activision, and then other things that they buy. You know all their things are not really clearly linked together, because they all process purchases differently where they buy different platforms. They do similar things, but all the systems are not really exactly linked together. For example, just recently Microsoft announced that they're gonna do their identity for LinkedIn using a new platform, and they can have verified identities and all that, but that doesn't automatically extend to Xbox.

I'll quickly scan through a bunch of these things. But by all means I'd like to share this deck with everybody here, and by all means, any questions you might have. Please feel free to ask me. Here we're just talking about the mixed reality stiff keep. This is eventually like the hyper reality: when you have the mix of AR/VR. Device conendrum obviously comes center for in all the conversations we have here. I'm definitely not an export in game development. I may know a thing here or two, but i'm definitely not an expert in the web based game development or the console based game development. But to the best of my understanding, if you really want to have immersive experience, you gotta have consoles in there, I think, you can't really have immersive experiences based on the web gaming yet. I'm definitely gonna be checking out the links you sent but, in my personal opinion, I think this is where the device conendrum comes in. In that if you really want to have immersive experiences, you end up being captive to the devices. And devices essentially impose the platforms. They will dictate exactly the policies, how identity works or how paying folks, and stuff like that.

This is actually where you get into a bit of a tangent with the research by Carrie Heeter, in terms of exactly what is the subjective experience of presence. And again I'm gonna skip through this. It's all about personal presence, social presence, and then eventually the environmental presence. So once we have all that together, That's where we really talk about immersive experiences coming together.

Okay, identity and payment here. So let me just focus on this part a little bit. What is the identity in the real world. Traditionally, and again, you know, we were talking just a few minutes ago, about how people are using WebSockets and these things, when we talk about identity in the real world, of course, there's this whole thing about web authn and everything else in there. Traditionally, we have different views of identity, and when I'm also talking about identity and gaming, I'm also trying to keep in mind a bit of a philosophical approach in there. Even though we can say that my identity is just my gamer tag or my email. But as we all understand, especially to gamers, the identity means a lot in the games. I'm gonna keep going down here. This is in terms of player versus user and how biometrics come heavily into the mix of all this.

I think I have another slide for the payments that I did specifically. But in the interest of time, I'm keeping an eye on my clock here, I'll probably skip through some of these things. I might open the other one for like a moment. Let me please skip for this real quick. Here we spoke about how we make payments work today. Here we spoke about the Internet history. That's why you know we can't get to the metaverse so soon, because Internet took many, many years, and went through multiple iterations.

I think this is what we just summarized: not there yet, a long way to go ahead!

I can quickly bring in my other slide for a minute as this is where we specifically spoke about identity and payments. And this is where I was talking about like understanding identity in the real world. Let me see if I can bring this in the slide show...

We spoke about identity in the real world. Authentication versus authorization and a bunch of things. What is identity in real world here. This is one of my favorite examples, also from a philosophical point of view. Everybody who's ever played that at any game associated with PC will know this. We need to make sure that we can have a good understanding of identity, not just from a technical point of view, but from the place point of view. You know, it means a lot for any given player to basically own their identity in the gaming ecosystem. There were some examples I took here. We just spoke about how we authenticate people today on in the web game. Of course, all the regular ways, whether we have Java flows, the chart flows, and this Samantha going to the metaverse. This is where I took an example specifically of the movie Her where I'm sure, you must have all watched that. But basically, Samantha being a character in the movie Her, how would you identify Samantha in the movie Her, or for the same example, how would you identify the guy in the movie, the free guy? So those questions gonna come up in the gaming context. You have an NPC. And the NPC is specifically an AI-spawn NPC. And how do you embed identity in those characters? So this was more going on in terms of like how do we have decentralized identity. But I think I should probably stop here because I see it's already 12:45, and let's leave time for any Q&A!