Wondering what the Metaverse is? You’ve probably been there before. There is no perfect description of the concept, but in general it is about digital interaction and human decision making in some key aspects. The term “Metaverse” comes from Neil Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, but has since taken on a much broader meaning.
There have been similar games before, but Second Life struck a chord in pop culture, in a way that is still true. As Dwight said in the office, “Second Life is not a game, it is a multi-user virtual environment. There are no points, points, winners or losers“.
Dwight does a good job explaining Second Life, a very primitive portal into the Metaverse. Besides, the second clip in his Second Life gameplay is important to explain the difference between the classic games and the Metaverse. Dwight says he created a version of himself in Second Life that was just like in real life, except he could fly.
The Metaverse can be as simple as that, it doesn’t have to be wild and crazy like what we see in Ready Player One.
Metaverse and its current environment
The story and movie Ready Player One feature a future where the Metaverse has become so mainstream that people care more about their lives in the device than they do in real life. In what the book and movie call an oasis, we see the Metaverse inhabited by a poetic (and perhaps impossible) sense of freedom and openness.
At the same time, this representation of the Metaverse implies that there will be only one universal software available to all that will host everything and anything. Far from the reality we live in today, fingers crossed and we pray that a world as unique as this will not dominate our digital world in the future. The repercussions will be horrific.
The first time you play Minecraft, you will realize that you have entered a new world of ‘how to play’. You are represented by an avatar who has the ability to dig holes, collect materials, build things, and live life as you see fit. You can also play games and go fishing.
In Minecraft, creativity comes from the delicate balance between limitations and functionality. You control the blocks, and you have a sense of accomplishment by achieving goals in an environment that has a clear set of rules. Minecraft was created as a game, and became a platform once its potential was revealed.
Created as a platform, Roblox has been a gaming platform for content creators right from the start. Roblox was built as a place where content is created by users with very few restrictions.
Despite what the eccentric trailer above shows, the Roblox platformer isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Minecraft. Due to the relative lack of scrutiny by Roblox moderators, it’s not hard to find bugs and games that don’t work.
The important elements of Roblox and Minecraft lie in their creative potential. Both titles are immersive, and both allow you to create and modify the environment in which you live.
Metaverse is not new
The basics of the Metaverse have been around since the early days of the Internet. Since we started giving each other custom usernames, using fun codes, and creating our own web pages, we’ve been in the Metaverse for a while.
It is only now that we have come to a point where a description of these creative environments has become necessary. We have reached a point where the entire digital environment can accommodate more than just a game: it can be where we work, where we meet and where we actually live a second life.
When Niantic describes the real world Metaverse, we see the stage we are now entering. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a way to display digital assets as “real” as physical assets. An experience like Pokemon GO shows us how connecting digital assets to our real world can make the platform more than just a game.
The potential of the Metaverse is huge. Metaverse apps will generate billions in consumer spending from now on. Companies that succeed in finding their place in this creative digital landscape will find huge room for growth.
There is no single Metaverse
As an individual, it is important to remain aware of the dangers of this new reality. As with any phase shift in our human experience, there is room for profit and power, but there is also room for malevolent actors and all kinds of people with ill intentions.
There will be a lot of liars. Liars who would lie that their vision of the Metaverse is the ultimate platform for this Metaverse. There is no such thing as a single “Metaverse”, even if the company has defined its ecosystem as such.
As has always been the case with the Internet, so it is with the Metaverse: there are no single authorities, only entities. There are many entry points to the temporary environment which is the Metaverse, and not all elements of this future are compatible. Whatever path you choose, and whoever you choose to interact with, be careful – and have fun!