Game channels are the newest technological advancement in the world of blockchain gaming, as they enable fast gameplay by removing the wait time for block confirmations.
For instance, as more players join a game, storing all of the files and data on the underlying blockchain network will eventually result in scalability challenges. Additionally, when it comes to multiplayer gaming or other PvP (player vs player) matches, it is pertinent that each player gets to make their moves quickly. However, most blockchain games don’t offer this functionality, as they need to create a transaction between each move, which takes time depending on the network congestion.
In addition, game channels provide purely decentralized and trustless dispute resolution without requiring a third-party or central authority. In a way, game channels can be considered individual payment channels for specific games.
The main objective of game channels is to facilitate real-time gameplay between players. Since most blockchain games add transactions for every move and those transactions need to get mined into blocks before they become "active", there is a noticeable delay that players have to adjust to before they can make another move.
Game channels enable players to take their gameplay on a secure off-chain network. As such, the time between moves is cut down by a considerable amount, granting players the opportunity to enjoy the game in near-real-time.
Let’s consider an example to understand how game channels work. For instance, two players set up a game channel to compete in a turn-based card game for prize money (tokens). Both players settle on the rules and guidelines for the game, co-fund the prize money, and open the game channel. They start playing via the game channel, and once the predefined win/loss criteria are met, the smart contract releases the funds to the winner’s account, all records are entered into the ledger (on the main chain), and the game channel closes.
Amidst this, both players are still connected to the public blockchain network on which the card game is originally supported. If one of the players tries to cheat and enters an invalid outcome on the public ledger, the other player is able to trustlessly prove this and enforce the game rules correctly.
Dr. Daniel Kraft, CTO of Autonomous Worlds and co-founder of XAYA, has been an active member of the blockchain community since 2011 and has been involved in Bitcoin, Namecoin, and Huntercoin development since 2013. With a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and a Master's degree in Theoretical Physics, Dr. Kraft began his career as a Software Engineer at Google in Zurich, Switzerland. Due to his keen interest in blockchain technology, he switched careers and started working as CTO for Autonomous Worlds Ltd where he focuses on the Xaya platform and game development. Dr. Kraft has also published multiple research articles in peer-reviewed journals, including two related to blockchain technology.
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