The Starknet Gaming Thesis 👾
Why the crossroads of Starknet and gaming has big potential!
Metaversal is a Bankless newsletter for weekly level-ups on NFTs and the onchain frontier
Dear Bankless Nation,
One of the most compelling Layer 2 (L2) scaling solutions on the rise is Starknet, a zk-rollup designed around STARK cryptographic proofs and its custom Cairo virtual machine.
This design allows for flexibility beyond what the Ethereum L1 can offer, and one area where this flexibility is starting to shine is Starknet’s upstart gaming scene.
This is fertile ground to keep an eye on for upcoming NFT-centric adventures and experiments, but before diving in it’s important to understand the basics of what Starknet brings to the table.
That’s why today I’m excited to present a Starknet Gaming Thesis 101 guest post by Jean-Paul Faraj, the head of community at Unstoppable Games where he’s helping build Influence, a fully onchain space strategy game.
Jean-Paul’s deep into the Starknet gaming landscape, so he’s going to give us the basic rundown on why Starknet matters, why it’s good for games, and a few projects to watch!
🔮 Thanks to Kraken NFT 🔮
The Bull Case for Starknet Gaming
Smart contract blockchains are built toward two fundamental principles: openness and immutability. Ethereum has been instrumental in championing this type of architecture, enabling new approaches to apps across many sectors, including finance, gaming, social media, and beyond.
However, as its popularity has risen, Ethereum has understandably come to face several challenges derived from its base design constraints:
💨 Speed — The processing time for transactions can be slow for regular users during times of high network activity.
🪙 Cost — Transaction fees can be substantial during network congestion and can complicate smaller or frequent transactions.
❓ Clunky — At least for newcomers, managing wallets and interacting with smart contracts can be an unfamiliar and overwhelming experience.
So how do we make a system that can advance upon this base, create opportunities for new sorts of ideas to come to life, and have it scale for the masses?
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To Break Through With Gaming, Break Away From Traditional Blockchain UX
Against this backdrop, to leap forward here we need three main things:
🌐 The ability to be flexible without compromising on openness and unstoppability
📈 The ability to be able to scale to the point where costs and speed are not the bottlenecks
🎨 To cultivate new spaces of experimentation, creativity, and curiosity
As an example, when WordPress was first created it opened a massive opportunity for those who knew some basic technical skills to build HTML websites. However, once we reached the point where streamlining platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and Webflow came out, we saw an incredible boom in people with ideas having the freedom to bring them to life.
In other words? The cost, speed, and technical challenges were abstracted away to the point that nearly anyone with time could dive in handily.
The blockchain ecosystem is similarly entering its WordPress moment, as rising solutions like L2s and Account Abstraction (AA) are turning the tide against the lankiness of traditional UX around smart contracts. However, to achieve a real breakthrough, we will need breakout applications that can showcase the great new possibilities at hand.
Toward this end, games are extremely promising, as billions of people around the world play games every day. If a game is good, many would be inclined to play it. And wherever games are, they accelerate growth, push out beyond traditional boundaries, and bring in discerning users.
For example, since the early 1980s gaming has continually bloomed from, and fed into, the growth of hardware, software, VR/AR, network connectivity, user interface design, AI, and beyond. This is why we see so many blockchain projects experimenting around the gaming sector today, there’s always been this synergistic relationship with new technologies!
But to really push forward now, we need the proper tools that enable blockchain game devs to build without core compromises and at scale to ensure speed and costs won’t be detrimental to growing their audiences.
Here, enter Starknet…
Why Starknet Is Promising
While it’s still in development, Starknet is already a great option for projects looking to build blockchain games that cater to the community that exists around the Ethereum ecosystem and also beyond. That’s because the network has a clear roadmap to scale, and it natively supports Account Abstraction.
As for AA, it’s no secret that this is one of the most promising resources to push blockchain to the masses. Simply put, AA simplifies transactions on the blockchain by allowing for arbitrary logic to be incorporated directly into user accounts. This permits developers to execute complex, multi-stage transactions seamlessly without requiring user approvals at every step.
This approach contrasts with the traditional transaction process used by most blockchains, including Ethereum, which relies on Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) and necessitates individual approvals for every part of a transaction. This is a 0 to 1 moment, taking us from cumbersome and clunky approvals and always having to have the blockchain front and center, to a more streamlined and seamless experience for apps while not compromising on user security or ownership.
One example here is how AA supports Session Keys. A game would be quite cumbersome to play if each time you took an action you had to pause and confirm it in your account separately, so Session Keys enable players to flexibly approve an app to submit confirmations in the background while they continue to take in-game actions. This dynamic allows players to interact onchain while not taking away from the experience of playing their game.
By addressing the intrinsic challenges of speed, cost, and UX, and fostering an ecosystem that promotes flexibility and creativity, Starknet is paving the way to new sorts of gaming possibilities.
Starknet Gaming Projects to Watch
There are a range of standout gaming projects that are worth keeping an eye on in the Starknet community, a running list of which can be found here. A few specific efforts you might consider tracking include:
🎮 The Dojo Game Engine
Dojo is an onchain game engine written in the Cairo language, making it ideal for handling vast computations. It optimizes for interoperability and extensibility and provides a framework for game devs to create onchain games without the technical debt of having to build out core gaming processes from scratch.
With its pre-release coming soon, Influence is a space colonization game where players vie for control and dominance in a newly formed colony within the Adalian asteroid belt. Combining elements of trading, space exploration, strategic decision-making, and futuristic realism, players take on the role of spacefaring entrepreneurs, and their main objective is to develop and manage an economic empire within Adalian.
Realms.World, a.k.a. Loot Realms, is a fantasy multiverse ecosystem that’s already host to +10 games and counting. A surging force in the Starknet gaming scene, Loot Realms recently entered a partnership with Cartridge to build a Realms World Layer 3 (L3) platform atop Starknet.
Additional Starknet Resources
If you're interested in diving deeper into the Starknet ecosystem and enhancing your understanding of its landscape to prep for the gaming to come, the following resources are great starting points for beginners:
Today’s action steps:
📱 Explore the L2: Play Starknet Games
🪂 Airdrop Hunt: Try Starknet Quests
🌟 Read my previous write-up: Farcaster Frames
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Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.
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