To those who are not familiar with the concept of a metaverse, it is similar to the universe portrayed in “Ready Player One”, but the concept’s origins were birthed by author Neal Stephenson after his novel titled “Snow Crash”.
The whole idea of a metaverse is the existence of individuals through a virtual reality, where the universe and avatars are digital and a part of this non-physical reality. All the advancements made since the beginning of the internet have brought us near to the beginning of the metaverse and are a goal for industry leaders currently.
These advancements are augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars, and various means of communication like video chats, all adding up to the ability to create this metaverse.
The idea of virtual reality might disturb some folks since it does create a place where it puts users into a more “vulnerable” environment, whilst allowing almost anything to happen. On the other hand, a sandbox world might be exactly what some are looking for, come this new technological revolution the metaverse wishes to anticipate.
There already are metaverses in existence within online game universes such as Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox to name a few. These games all include different options, Fortnite having virtual concerts with famous artists, Minecraft beginning a simple yet never-ending world, and Roblox with all these different games and places where you can meet with other users.
After the pandemic started over a year ago, it revealed various top home jobs that could be done without rotting away at offices all day every day, and alternatives like live streaming and online meetings, so no more worrying about the best way to dress for an interview because you wouldn’t be seen from the waist down in the first place!
Let’s dive into the clear vision for the metaverse. It is projected to be an “embodied internet”, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. Not one entity will own the metaverse, or can for that matter. It will have its own economy, where users should be able to take their avatars and virtual goods from one place to another.
You may already be seeing advances being made towards this virtual reality by big companies. Facebook has already gotten into virtual reality through their acquisition of Oculus, the VR company that produces headsets and everything relating to it.
Facebook’s “Meta” envisages a digital world for avatars to connect, travel, and entertain themselves all done through VR headsets. Zuckerberg wants this experience to be a version of the internet that is experienced from within, rather than simply looked at.
Microsoft is another one of these giants that are working on developing some form of the metaverse, already having developed mixed and extended reality, as well as holograms with their Microsoft Mesh platform.
Microsoft’s plans are to combine reality with the virtual world using augmented and virtual reality, and plans on adding holograms to this mixed reality. The United States Army is working with Microsoft to develop an augmented reality Hololens 2 headset to train new recruits.
Epic Games deserves a place on this list, having developed Fortnite, forging its steps into a metaverse through virtual concert events and celebrity avatars, as well as developing photorealistic digital humans with a program named MetaHuman Creator.
Roblox is working towards a metaverse by collaborating with brands like Vans to create a virtual skate park, but this isn’t new for them. Roblox has always had user-generated games and role-playing games on its platform.
Minecraft is a long-admired classic that many people grew up with and still play. In survival mode, you get spawned in a generated world and have to build and survive in your environment. You also get different difficulties, like peaceful mode, so nothing attacks you but you must survive, or creative mode, where you have to merely build and experiment.
Many other platforms have also created universes to accommodate the metaverse of the future.
Decentraland is quite popular, having grown from 1,500 daily users to 10,000 at the beginning of 2021. In this universe, you can own real estate and other inventory, but the most notable increase in value was from NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and undeveloped land parcels, being now priced even at $6000 US.
There are also big bucks in NFT artwork, some selling for multiple thousands of dollars.
Atari is also planning on stepping into the metaverse through an Atari-branded casino within Decentraland.
Another very accessible virtual place is called Nowhere. It is an online haven where people can meet in open spaces where anyone can join or closed spaces that are used for private meetings or events.
Uses for Nowhere include businesses holding conferences and gatherings on it, festivals, concerts, reunions, and so on. The tour of the universe starts you off on a virtual platform overlooking the city of New York, where you can talk with other users using your real voice through floating nonagons bearing each user’s real face.
Another fascinating thing about Nowhere is its spatial audio, where if a user goes further away from you, or is to your left or right, their voice is projected into your headset like so as well. There are also quiet rooms, for calm chatting, and a hopping nightclub where a performer sings.
The popularity of this platform promises a future not just for virtual work platforms, but also for virtual social platforms which can be used for building personal and work relationships alike.
All this anticipation begs us to wonder whether we are headed towards a more open and social era for the internet, that keeps us more connected than we already are, or towards a gory episode of Black Mirror, where technology takes over and we lose all sense of privacy and humanity.
No need to fear though, it isn’t like everyone will be forced to partake in the metaverse, and this concept that is already in the works offers interested individuals the cyber-futuristic experience they crave, just like video games did way back when.