To keep 21st century kids interested, classic toys have been getting high-tech makeovers lately, whether they be Hot Wheels cars, View-Master headsets or even just storybooks. Now, a new company known as Blok.Party is targeting tabletop gaming with PlayTable, a tablet-like gaming console that uses physical pieces and runs an operating system based on a blockchain.
PlayTable looks like a huge tablet, with most of the top taken up by a touchscreen. Up to eight players can jump in at once, and along with tapping and poking at the screen, the games can be played by moving physical game pieces across the digital board or by syncing smartphones to the device. So to play a game like poker, for example, everyone's cards will show up privately on their phone screen.
Other PlayTable games work on the same toys-to-life principle behind things like Activision's Skylanders series and Nintendo's amiibo figures. Rather than embedding an NFC chip into a toy, PlayTable includes a set of RFID stickers which can turn basically anything into a game piece. As those "characters" gain experience, level up and learn new abilities, all the information is stored on the RFID tag, allowing it to be carried over to other PlayTables.
This is made possible thanks to the operating system, which is built on the blockchain of the cryptocurrency Ethereum. A blockchain is essentially a distributed, secure database designed to keep a permanent record of its change history in order to prevent fraud. The first was originally designed as a public ledger for Bitcoin transactions, but since then the concept has gone on to be applied to other applications.
In the case of the PlayTable, the blockchain format allows users to trade their characters with other players, without fear of being scammed. Blok.Party's example is a player trading their maxed-out mage character to someone else in exchange for a new class they haven't tried yet. That would mean though that the console likely needs a constant internet connection to work.
The PlayTable comes bundled with a fantasy-themed, card-based, multiplayer RPG called Battlegrid. Other confirmed games so far include tabletop classics like Settlers of Catan, Codenames and Ticket to Ride, as well as a version of Texas Hold 'Em Poker.
Blok.Party is aiming to release the PlayTable in Q4 of 2018, for US$599. Pre-orders are currently open, and those who get in early can pick one up for $349.
Check out PlayTable in action in the video below.
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