Nolan Bushnell, widely known as the “godfather of video games,” has had a profound impact on the gaming and entertainment industries throughout his career. Currently serving as the Chief Knowledge Officer at Moxy, a blockchain-based esports company, Bushnell offers his visionary insights into the convergence of blockchain technology, gaming, and the broader cryptocurrency landscape in a recent interview.
Traditionally, cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) faced skepticism from the gaming community. Bushnell attributes this skepticism to the rapid rise of play-to-earn games, which were among the earliest adopters of blockchain technology. These blockchain-based games introduced a unique feature: players could accumulate digital assets and earn money within the game by trading NFTs.
According to Bushnell, the disdain for cryptocurrencies among traditional gamers stems from the mechanics of play-to-earn games. He argues that dedicated gamers value fun over monotonous grinding, a gameplay element present in many play-to-earn games. In his words, “What gamers want is fun, and unfortunately, these play-to-earn games are 100% dependent on the greater fool theory to work.” The greater fool theory suggests that the success of play-to-earn games relies on attracting new participants willing to invest money, which in turn benefits earlier participants, raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of such ecosystems.
Bushnell’s illustrious career spans a wide array of groundbreaking projects and adventures that have left an indelible mark on the world. While he is often referred to as the “father of video games” for his role in founding Atari, his contributions extend beyond gaming. He was instrumental in launching Chuck E. Cheese, a popular American restaurant chain that combines entertainment and dining. Furthermore, Bushnell is credited with hiring Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., during Jobs’ early career.
Given his extensive experience, Bushnell’s insights into the synergy between blockchain and gaming carry significant weight. He believes that blockchain technology is poised to bring about a transformative shift in the gaming industry.
Bushnell identifies three fundamental pillars of blockchain’s impact on gaming. First and foremost, he emphasizes the ability of blockchain to facilitate secure and seamless transactions within the gaming ecosystem. He notes, “We want to make gaming a place where people can compete, and to have good competition, you need to be able to easily and securely transfer funds.” This addresses a critical issue in the gaming world—ensuring the safe transfer of digital assets and in-game currencies.
The second pillar centers on the utility of smart contracts. Bushnell contends that smart contracts can revolutionize not only gaming but also various interpersonal agreements. He explains, “So much of what we do in life is build relationships and then decide how they will work.” Smart contracts, which autonomously execute agreements without the need for trust, have the potential to reshape player interactions and interactions with game developers.
The third pillar concerns the secure storage of digital asset values, such as cryptocurrencies and tokens, on the blockchain. The safety and decentralization inherent in blockchain technology instill trust and transparency that conventional gaming platforms often lack.
Bushnell’s personal journey into the realm of cryptocurrencies underscores the transformative potential of blockchain technology. Initially introduced to cryptocurrencies by Brock Pierce, a key figure in the creation of Tether, Bushnell paid little attention to this emerging digital asset when Bitcoin was valued at around $50. However, like many worldwide, his interest grew significantly as he witnessed the astronomical rise in Bitcoin’s price. This surge prompted him to delve deeper into the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, recognizing their broader implications.
Discussing his approach to cryptocurrencies, Bushnell acknowledges the inherent price volatility in the crypto market. He highlights the power of collective perception of value, asserting that “Anytime humans are capable of sharing a perception of value en masse, we’re usually in the clear.” In essence, he recognizes the potential for cryptocurrencies to reshape traditional financial paradigms through a shared understanding of their value.