What is “Metaverset”, the parallel universe that digital giants dream of?

“Metaverset” has become one of the most popular words in the world of technology and video games in recent months. What is it about ? And why does it make all the giants of the web dream?

A virtual parallel universe

Imagine a digital world where you could live a parallel life without leaving your home: welcome to the “meta-verse”, a concept developed in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in the science fiction novel Le virtual samurai, a cult book for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

Dancing at a nightclub with your friends in the form of an avatar, climbing the summit of Everest through a virtual reality helmet or having a meeting with colleagues in an identical digitally reconstructed office … “Metaverset” promises to push the boundaries of it physical world until the real and the virtual universe end up merging.

Eventually, monitors, holograms, VR headsets and augmented reality glasses should allow “ture“liquids of virtual universes in physical places which”teleportations“, Predicts the head of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.

In the movie Ready Player One (2018), Steven Spielberg already mentioned the “meta-verse”

A “grail” for digital heavyweights

It is therefore understandable that the “meta-verse” is considered a “grail” by the web and video game giants, who see it as the next big leap in the development of the internet and are starting to invest massively in the development of it.

Most recent? Facebook, which on Monday announced the creation of a team dedicated to the “meta-verse”. “This will be a very big part of the next chapter for the technology industry“Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge last week. The Metaverse,”it is the successor to mobile internet“, he says, deploring the limits of the smartphone as a means of accessing digital spaces.

To reach its new goal, Facebook has already invested heavily in technology that allows people to feel physically elsewhere, such as its Portal video calling devices, Oculus headsets and its Horizon virtual reality platform. But even Mark Zuckerberg admitted that existing VR headsets are “a little clumsy“which requires much more development for the type of experiences it aims for”within about 5 years“.

The new masters of video games are one step ahead

Race againstthe holy grail of social interactions“(dixit Marc Zuckerberg), however, has already been launched by the new giants in video games such as Roblox (gaming platform, which includes countless games created by children and teenagers) or Fortnite (shooting and survival games with cartoon-like graphics), which dream of outdated social network codes defined by Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat.

At the end of April 2020 in full confinement, five virtual concerts by American rapper Travis Scott, who performed as an avatar on Fortnite, were followed by more than 12 million players. Due to this success, the game that collects 350 million.players“primarily aged 14 to 24, also launched a film festival called Nite Shorts or Party Royalea giant virtual party hosted by acclaimed DJs.

Especially in a time like now, where it’s harder to get together physically, it’s extremely important to have these virtual experiences. We really think of Fortnite as a platform for connected social experiences and not just a game“, explained in late March to AFP a leader of Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite.

However, if it has a train of delay today, Facebook can reach its goals. For Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush, owns the parent company for Instagram and WhatsApp “the great benefit of having a billion people connected every day“.”If they offer entertainment options, they are likely to succeed. “

But should we be happy or worried? According to the dystopian vision presented in The virtual samuraitaken up two decades later in the novel Player One adapted for a film by Steven Spielberg in 2018 (Ready Player Onesee the trailer above in this article), the future is not very reassuring …

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