From Toys to Games: Exploring New Design Directions in Full-Chain Games

In full-chain games, there are two distinct design directions. First, we need to clearly differentiate between games and toys and carefully consider which one we truly want.

A few years ago, Will Wright described his design of “SimCity” as a software toy during a talk at the Game Developers Conference. He used the example of a ball: a ball has many interesting ways to play with it, like bouncing, spinning, throwing, and dribbling. If you wish, you can use it to play soccer, basketball, or other games.

But the rules of the game are not built into the ball; they are a set of rules overlaying the ball defined by the player’s objectives. “SimCity” is similar. Like many computer games, it creates a world that players can manipulate, but unlike most games, it has no explicit goals. You can choose your own objectives, like building a city without slums or one that relies entirely on public transportation. But “SimCity” itself has no winning conditions, no goals; it is just a software toy. (Link:

01. Costikyan’s Game Theory

Costikyan theoretically distinguishes between games and toys. For example, a ball is a toy, whereas soccer and basketball are games. Toys have no fixed way to play, but their characteristics allow people to create various games.

The ball, as a common item in different games, actually illustrates the concept of “asset sharing between games,” which has been discussed in blockchain games for a long time and has existed in the real world.

02. Understanding from a Cryptocurrency Perspective

To explain from another perspective, a ball can be seen as a protocol, while games are applications based on it. The Ethereum protocol does not specify how to create or use DeFi. Similarly, toys do not define specific gameplay. Toys can be items like:

  • Balls
  • Playing cards
  • Dice
  • Building blocks
  • Ropes

These items are simple yet offer multiple ways of use. If these items were implemented on the blockchain, they could achieve “asset sharing between games.” If we still want to achieve unique blockchain games, we should first focus on creating toys and then develop games.

03. Loot

Loot is the only project that fits this concept.

After talking to many people, I found that opinions on Loot vary. I believe Loot is the closest to being a successful toy and hope to explore this project further. However, many people think it has failed or taken the wrong direction.

Although Loot does not define specific gameplay, many games or applications have been created based on Loot. While these projects have not yet become mainstream in blockchain games, I believe this direction is correct.

The creation of playing cards underwent many challenges and iterations, such as trying six suits or expanding the numbers to 24. Therefore, it is premature to consider Loot a failure after just one attempt. Moreover, there is still a vast design space at the toy level.

04. Design Space

It is important to note that the complexity or specific functions of toys will affect the games designed based on them.

Simple toys usually support a wider variety of games. For example, abstract and simple toys like balls, dice, and playing cards tend to create more diverse and rich games. In contrast, toys like kendama or Rubik’s cubes, due to their complexity, are less likely to generate various competitions.

Additionally, when implemented on the blockchain, a financial dimension is added. Loot did not generate income or return it to the application layer. However, successful projects like Optimism, Uniswap, and Nouns expand their ecosystems by returning the value obtained at the protocol layer to the application layer. This is a process of bootstrapping network effects.

Therefore, there is still a huge design space in creating toys on the blockchain. The concept is not just about creating games but about making something everyone wants to play, while also inspiring developers to create new games. Furthermore, there is much to explore in building economic systems.

Although I have some ideas, to avoid bias, I will not mention them in this article.