Better: A simple, dapp-able Incentive Game

Thom Ivy
Thom Ivy
Aug 19, 2018 · 4 min read
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The best ideas are often the simplest — so I want to share a simple demo of how smart contracts and incentive games can be implemented in your daily life, a game I’ll call “Better”, I encourage everyone to try playing Better without the use of computers with people they trust to get a feel for these games. Games like this are not new or rare — gyms and workplaces incentivize each other to do many self-improvement tasks (Weight loss, smoking cessation,) but being able to create them ad-hoc and trust they will be executed faithfully through the programmatic nature of cryptocurrency is what makes these games more interesting and efficient.


Now, I’m inclined to believe that the best results will be achieved when we require the final vote to be unanimous (as opposed to simple majority wins) otherwise the stakes of both parties are held in escrow by a program- a smart contract, — this reduces the likelihood of attempting to ‘game’ the final voting process.

Once voting is complete, the winning side is paid out doubles their stake, the other side gets zilch and the game is complete.

So, with that said, we can be even more succinct: Incentivize yours or others self-improvements using a double-or-nothing wager with automated and trustless processing.


The friend group (the ‘Stake-ers’) asks their nicotine-dependent friend (the ‘Player’) if they want to play Better. First, the Player will need to ante up $500 on their side. Together they will agree on a time period as well as goal details — whatever the goal, it should be framed as a question that will have a yes or no answer when the clock runs out on the game.

For the sake of this example, we’ll say the Player and Stake-ers agree to set the specific goal as: “No cigarettes for three months,” and that these friends aren’t worried about being deceived by the behavior-modification target;
the Stake-ers trust the Player not to defraud or sneak around.

At the end of the three months, they hold their vote: The player quit smoking for three months, won $500, and the Stake-ers lost their bet but gained the satisfaction of a healthier friend.


Vote-tallying and smart-contract payment methods are ideal for this simple but effective social interaction, and in Better, we find a rare instance in which the user experience might actually be improved through programmatic money, decentralization and smart contracts.

Consider other simple rounds of Better:

  • $10 to encourage your peer to interview for that job they’ve been procrastinating on.
  • The weekly allowance to get your teen to clean their room.

So there you have it. There is nothing stopping you from playing Better with your friends today for even small things, and all you need is basic trust and someone to hold the cash and count the votes, but blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies can make all of this open-source, operationally transparent, and easy to use.


With privacy-preserving blockchains like Enigma Project and perhaps Oasis Labs protocols, we can imagine very high-stakes games of Better played out with more exotic and influential Players and systems:

Imagine a nation whose citizens pool 1 million dollars and challenge an elected official to take some action or enact some policy.

At a very shallow glance, these privacy-preserving blockchains could permit inscrutable incentive games that would make it impossible to tell if a politician or a citizen actually engaged in the game, potentially empowering “dark money” in both democratic and undemocratic senses.

T h a n k s .

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