The Blockchain Game: A hands-on exercise for teaching blockchain basics

Blockchain technology can be a game-changer for accounting, supply chain, banking, contract law, and many other fields. But it will only be useful if lots of people trust and adopt it. And right now, just understanding what Blockchain really is can be difficult to understand even for the brightest in our fields. Enter “The Blockchain Game,” a hands-on exercise that explains the core principals of blockchain tech, and serves as launching pad for discussion of blockchain’s real-world applications.

Basics of the Game

  • A hands-on exercise.
  • Simulation centers around a blockchain for student grades (discussion at the end of the simulation about why this would not be a good application for blockchain).
  • No computers. Participants are the computors and calculate blocks.
  • The game teachs core concepts about a distributed ledger, but can be modified to take in whatever direction the educator wants (smart contracts, supply chain, applications, etc.)
  • Additional elements can be added if instructors want to play the game with a computer.

Blockchain concepts taught by the game

Distributed Ledger

  • No central authority to hold ledger or be attacked.
  • All people (aka nodes) have complete ledger.

Transparent but anonymous Ledger

  • Ledger can be public while concealing identity.

Append-only Ledger

  • Each entry (aka block) is linked to the previous entry via some math (aka hash).
  • Some nodes (aka miners) are paid for performing calculations (aka proof of work).

Immutable Ledger

  • Attacks to ledger are impractical due to the need for a majority of nodes (aka 51% attack) to agree to a change and the computational power required.

Distribution

Materials for the blockchain game are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike International License, making it free for anyone to use and alter for their own purposes. A description and download of all the materials are available here https://www.christiansonjs.com/the-blockchain-game/

About the Author
J. Scott Christianson is an assistant teaching professor of management at the Trulaske College of Business, where his interests are focused on the impact of technology on society and human well-being. He also publishes a monthly list of resources, useful apps, book reviews, tips for teaching technology. You can subscribe here.