Wondering what Metaverse is? Chances are you’ve been there before. There is no perfect description of the concept, but in general it is about digital interaction and human decision making in a few key aspects. The term “Metaverse” comes from Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash from 1992, but it has since taken on a much broader meaning.
There have been similar games before, but the release of Second Life really hit a chord in pop culture, in a way that still holds true. As Dwight said in The Office, “Second Life is not a game, it is a virtual environment with multiple users. There are no points, scores, winners or losers“.
Dwight does a decent job of explaining Second Life, which is a very rudimentary approach to Metaverse. Moreover, the second passage about his way of playing Second Life is important to explain the difference between classic games and Metaverse. Dwight says he created a version of himself in Second Life that was exactly the same as in real life, except he could fly.
Metaverse can be so simple that it does not have to be as wild and crazy as what we see in Ready Player One.
Metaverset and its current environment
The Ready Player One story and movie offer a future where the idea of Metaverse has become so widespread that people worry more about their lives in the machine than in real life. In what the book and film call Oasis, we see a Metaverse space with an idyllic (and potentially impossible) sense of freedom and openness.
At the same time, this representation of Metaverse suggests that there will be only one universal software available to everyone who will host anything and everything. Outside of the reality we live in today, fingers crossed and pray that no other unique universe like this will dominate our digital world in the future. The consequences would be nightmarish.
The first time you play Minecraft, you realize that you have entered a new world of “gameplay”. You are represented by an avatar who has the ability to dig holes, harvest materials, build things and live a life that you find appropriate. You can also play games and fish.
In Minecraft, creativity comes from a careful balance between limitations and functionality. You control the blocks and you have a sense of accomplishment by reaching goals in an environment that has a clear set of rules. Minecraft was created as a game and became a platform when its potential was revealed.
Roblox was built as a platform, and is a gaming platform for creators from the start. Roblox was created as a place where content would be generated by users with very few restrictions.
Despite what the very whimsical trailer above shows, the Roblox platform is not as immediately aesthetically pleasing as Minecraft. Due to the relative lack of control from Roblox maintainers, it is not difficult to find bugs and games that do not work.
The key elements of Roblox and Minecraft lie in their creative potential. Both titles are immersive, and both allow you to create and change the environment in which you exist.
Metaverse is not new
The basics of Metaverse have been around since the early days of the internet. From the time we started giving each other custom usernames, using funny icons and creating our own web pages, we’ve been in Metaverse for a while.
It is only now that we reach a point where the description of these creative environments has become necessary. We have reached a point where a fully digital environment can accommodate more than just a game: it can be where we work, where we meet, and where we actually live a different life.
When Niantic describes the real world Metaverse, we see the phase we are entering into now. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) represent a way of seeing digital assets as “real” as physical assets. An experience like Pokemon GO shows us how linking digital assets to our real world can turn a platform into more than just a game.
The potential of Metaverse is enormous. Metaverse apps will generate billions in consumer spending from now on. Companies that manage to create a place for themselves in this creative digital landscape will find a monstrous space for growth.
There is not a single Metaverse
As an individual, it is important that you remain aware of the dangers of this new reality. As with any phase change in our human experience, there is room for profit and power, but there is also room for malicious actors and all sorts of bad intentions.
There will be many liars. Liars who will lie that their vision of Metaverse is the ultimate platform for this Metaverse. There is no such thing as a single “Metaverse” even though a company has designated its ecosystem as such.
As has always been the case with the Internet, so it is with Metaverse: there is no single authority, only entities. There are many entry points to the transient environment, which is Metaverset, and not all elements in this future are compatible. Whichever path you choose, and whoever you choose to interact with, be careful – and have fun!