Doom Replica Playable Directly on Bitcoin: Wait, What?

My blockchain gaming bingo card did not have this on it. Ordinal Theory, a Bitcoin project, has managed to inscribe a Doom replica directly onto the blockchain, making it one of the most unusual blockchain games around.

There is a lot to unpack here, but if you simply want to try it and be done with this nugget of news, click here (and annihilate my excellent bounce rate analytics.)

Right, let’s get on to how this is possible, who or what Ordinals is, and what it might mean for Bitcoin in the future. To note, my interest since back in 2017 has always been blockchain technology and its various applications, most notably, gaming. So, this is a little out of my comfort zone.

What Is Ordinals?

Ordinals — also known as Ordinal Theory — is a protocol on Bitcoin that assigns serial numbers to satoshis, which are the smallest denomination of a bitcoin. One bitcoin can be divided into 100,000,000 satoshis. As satoshis, unlike the bitcoin they make up, can each have information inscribed on them. This means that you can, in essence, create bitcoin-based NFTs, though Ordinal Theory calls them “digital artifacts”.

Many outlets and social media figures in crypto have said that Ordinal Theory is controversial and not popular with Bitcoin maximalists; this makes sense, but I could not possibly weigh in. What Ordinal Theory does offer, however, is the first way to store information — even content — directly on the Bitcoin protocol. That is, these digital artifacts are not on a sidechain or parachain, but entirely on Bitcoin itself. Furthermore, the entirety of the asset is on-chain, unlike one of the early attempts at a Bitcoin-based NFT, Colored Coins.

One benefit of the way Ordinals Theory works is that the digital artifacts are immutable. Most NFT standards allow metadata to be altered, which while useful for more complex applications of NFTs, can also be a flaw. This is not possible with Ordinals’ digital artifacts.

A lot of commenters on this Bitcoin Doom have raised the same (brilliant) meme of whether something can run Doom. There has been an army of people trying to hack the earliest, 90s version of Doom onto any electronic device that could house it. The most famous examples have been smart fridges, but my personal pick was on a pregnancy test.

Does this mean we will see a spate of Bitcoin-based games? Perhaps, but they will be tremendously simple, I suspect. There is a limit to how much can be inscribed on a satoshi, I believe. What’s more interesting is that people are able to do incredible, unexpected feats with a protocol not designed for gaming. What will people do with protocols that are over the next 5-10 years?

Lead image made in part with a photograph by Cash Macanaya on Unsplash

Robert Baggs
Robert Baggs
Full-time professional crypto writer and Editor of Token Gamer. Co-host of the Mint One Podcast. Obsessed with MMOs. London based. Primary holdings: WAXP, ENJ, & BTC. Secondary holdings: ETH, GALA, & MATIC

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