A metaverse is an online 3D space where users can interact with computer-generated objects, avatars, and most importantly, each other. While it may resemble a virtual world, a metaverse actually uses the Internet as its foundation instead.
Individuals use metaverses for different reasons such as social networking or playing games; however, others find it useful for educational or professional purposes. Virtual reality headsets can be used to create either virtual versions of the real world or imaginary worlds. They offer a one-of-a-kind, captivating experience not found anywhere else online.
They are always growing and improving, providing infinite opportunities for fun and interaction. After Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta, you might start hearing the term “Metaverse” more frequently than before. However, is this truly a new concept? Or has it been around for a while now? Let’s investigate together.
Is the Metaverse a new concept?
No, the term metaverse has not been around for only a few years. The term was first coined in the early 1990s by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. However, virtual worlds have existed long before then if you look at online gaming over the past decades. For example, during the first boom of virtual reality in the 90s, the UK grocery chain Sainsbury put together a VR shopping demo.
One of the earliest and most popular games that came to represent the idea of a metaverse was Second Life, which launched in 2003. Role-playing game fans will find this game similar to other early 2000s titles but with one major difference – users have embodied avatars that can interact and socialize with each other in a virtual world.
These virtual spaces let us partake in activities that we enjoy in the real world, such as clubbing and business meetings. The game also has a mirror image of an economy where its currency can be traded. Second life is comparable to the metaverse according to most textbooks.
For example, the early version of PlayStation Home was launched in 2008 but didn’t last because it closed down in 2015. It’s an interesting corporate take on the metaverse, yet compared to other virtual worlds on Ps3 at the time, it fell flat. Even so, it does prefigure Zukerberg’s recent demo for the metaverse. With this history lesson in mind, let’s explore how we can access the metaverse now.
While there is not one specific way to access the metaverse as of right now, there are various platforms that offer virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and extended reality experiences. Cybersecurity expert Baggili has stated that while multiple portals exist, no single site offers everything currently.
Various tech companies are in competition to provide the best virtual reality experience whether that be through gaming, work life, real estate, or shopping. By using a VR headset, platforms such as Fortnite, Roblox, and Sandbox immerse the user into a world where they can navigate by controlling their voice movements or gestures. This gives off the sensation of being physically present in an alternative world.
We can see the metaverse at work in multiplayer games such as Fortnite, Rec Room, or Horizon Worlds. But tech companies are also experimenting with other ways to use it, like building virtual stadiums for watching football games or concerts and creating virtual shopping experiences.
While some experts claim that we don’t need headsets to enter the metaverse, others say we may be able to use our smartphones instead. There is still much unknown about this potential method of access, but as we learn more, we will be better equipped to understand how to enter the metaverse.
The metaverse is a virtual world that has been built up to be more expansive and exaggerated than reality, but the gaming world has already adopted its basic form. For example, in the online game Fortnite, users have avatars with which they can interact with other players, earn currency, change outfits, and more.
We mentioned in an earlier blog post that the game Second Life is an example of something similar to the metaverse. The metaverse is said to be even better than this experience by allowing users to buy land and get married through digital avatars.
However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes that the metaverse may not be a single, centralized metaverse. Instead, it will likely be multiple platforms supported and a collection of communities accessible on several devices.
Key features of the Metaverse
- The use of avatars – The Metaverse is built on the idea of creating a digital version of oneself that can be used to express emotions and feelings in unique ways. Everyone has their own digital identity, which can be animated or static and is distinctive to them. Not only are digital avatars accurate representations of your physical appearance, but they can also be based on your favorite celebrities or characters. You’re able to change and customizable many aspects of your avatar, making the experience more interactive and fun. Avatars are digital characters that represent their users, and they can be customized to look however the user wants. They can also be controlled by the user with devices like keyboards, joysticks, and mice. More realistic avatars provide a more immersive experience for viewers or anyone interacting with them.
- Operations that utilize blockchain technology – Blockchain gives users the ability to protect their digital property and provides them with a way to prove ownership, both of which are essential in the Metaverse. The Metaverse is seeing an increase not only in data volume but also value and importance placed on security and reliability. Blockchain technology is used in the Metaverse to keep data secure and valid. Artificial intelligence is then used to protect against any risks or dangers. Centralized systems like database management systems (DBMS) have too many weak points and drawbacks, so the Metaverse cannot function without blockchain. With no central organization controlling it, anyone can access the Metaverse via blockchain technology.
- The use of virtual land – Virtual land in the Metaverse is more popular than ever. On the Metaverse, anyone can buy land using cryptocurrencies. The land is a non-fungible token (NFT), meaning it cannot be traded for other assets. Size refers to the number of pixels in a plot of Metaverse real estate. The size and location of virtual land will affect what it can be used for, such as digital storefronts, entertainment, or gaming. For example, areas near a VR street may have high potential because they could be used for advertisements.
- Decentralized Autonomous Organizations for governance – A DAO is a type of council or committee that uses blockchain and smart contracts in order to reach agreements on various decisions. According to the guidelines set by DAOs, the Treasury Wallet provides funding for farming activities across multiple networks. The governance process in DAOs is vital for ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to make their voices heard on significant decisions regarding Metaverse resources. Proposals and voting processes help ensure that everyone has a say in how these resources are managed.
- Supporting Web3 – The vision of Web3 is to create a new, improved internet. One in which users have power and control over their own online data, digital property, and avatar. Web3 and the Metaverse are complementary technologies- while Web3 might build the infrastructure for connectivity in the Metaverse (a virtual reality world), The meta web operates on a decentralized network much like how blockchain technology does.
The first obstacle the metaverse will face is people’s accessibility to the hardware it requires. Another issue is interoperability – being able to transfer virtual objects such as clothes or cars from one platform to another.
Many experts see this as essential for the metaverse to work out legal and commercial challenges, in addition, to figuring out who will serve as law enforcement in this digital space, which are a few of many issues that still need resolving. Plus, there is no telling if people will actually want to spend time in the virtual world.
The metaverse is a relatively new concept, and its future form is yet to be determined. Will it be VR glasses and virtual gaming worlds or will it provide an escape from the reality we currently live in? Only time will tell. If you’re interested in learning more about blockchain and similar concepts, take a look at more articles on our blog!