Playing in the blockchain

23 August 2018

Tyler Marriner
Computer Science student Tyler Marriner is developing games for the blockchain.

The blockchain is a distributed ledger or decentralised database that keeps all records of digital transactions, such as Bitcoin, but what about playing games using this technology?

University of Waikato Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences (Honours) student Tyler Marriner is working out ways to successfully do that. He says there have been some games developed already, such as Cryptokitties and Casinos, but they’re quite simple and he’s after developing something more interesting, interactive and complex.

Tyler is using Ethereum, a distributed virtual machine protocol that uses smart contracts to develop two-player, turn-based games that have a deck of cards and secret hands for each player that need to be encrypted.

Tyler presented his research at the honours student research conference for the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. He says he’s making good progress, but there are still issues in his programming to iron out. In Go Fish for example he says players could actually lie about the cards they have, but he’s confident he’ll be able to find a solution to that problem.

He’s also working on games such as Tic Tac Toe (noughts and crosses) and says there’s potential for chess and connect 4 to be played in the blockchain. “And then there are hidden states’ games, such as Battleships. I can see it being expanded to any other hidden knowledge or public knowledge games,” Tyler says.

Tyler was one of 20 students taking part in the day-long conference where students had 20 minutes to present their research and answer questions from the floor.

Nicole Chan for web
Nicole Chan, finding Māori loan words on Twitter.

Nicole Chan, the only female presenter, has been studying the use of Māori loanwords in tweets. She’s collected a list of 150 commonly loaned words, such as kai, kura, mana, aroha, wahine, whanau, moana, etc, and is using python, a popular programming language to clean up the tweets, (removing retweets, usernames, URLS, punctuation). She is then using  Word2Vec andfastText,  to study context and frequency.”

“I’m curious to know how people are using te reo Māori in their daily speech, how frequently it’s used and which words are most commonly used. This sort of information helps us to understand trends in everyday language,” Nicole says.

At the end of the conference, awards were given for best presentation and best project. Mitchell Grout won best presentation for his project titled Automated searching for differential characteristics in SHA-2 (Secure Hash Algorithm 2) and Joseph Simblett won best project which involves developing motion-based gesture control for drones.

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