Over the past five years, the term “metaverse” has become firmly rooted in people’s minds. It is actively used in the movie industry, games, and blockchain. Some corporations work on creating metaverses, and even states are interested in this phenomenon. So, what is a metaverse, and how does it work within the blockchain?
The term “Metaverse”
The term “Metaverse” itself originated in the nineties of the last century. The founder of the metaverse concept is considered to be the science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. In his story “Snow Crash”, published in 1992, there were two worlds: a real one and a virtual one, where people could enter and interact with each other using avatars. The term “Metaverse” itself is composed of two words: Greek meta – beyond, after, more comprehensive, and English word universe.
The first beginnings of metaverses in our world could be considered a project called “Second Life”, a kind of three-dimensional virtual world connected to social networks. It was not a typical online game but rather a virtual space where the player could do whatever s/he wanted – to live, organize a group, fight, conquer the land, and so on.
After, people began to meet and communicate on everyday or work issues in games. Thus, a group of British artists during the coronavirus pandemic met in the game Red Dead Redemption 2 instead of the usual Zoom and discussed work issues sitting around a campfire in the Wild West. The Fortnite shooter has become popular with celebrity singers who enter the game and spend time with their fans. In games, you could accumulate virtual currency and purchase unique items, equipment, or character appearances for it.
Later, many global brands began to explore this issue actively and created their own virtual spaces where their users could realize themselves, trade digital assets with each other, and have a daily life on a par with reality. One such example is the company Meta, which combines Facebook, Instagram, and several other major social networks. There are already digital stores in the Metaverse, where users can buy digital clothes for their avatars of real-life brands. And corporation Nvidia opened a platform Omniverse, where you can communicate and work together in real-time using the three-dimensional virtual space. At the moment, Axie Infinity - a blockchain game where you can earn real money by selling creatures from the game - can be considered the quintessence of the metaverse’s penetration into real life. Late last summer, the game became the first project on the Ethereum network whose trading volume exceeded one billion dollars.
What makes the Metaverse?
Now, you can substitute almost any MMO RPG or other online game with this designation, so nowadays, the term “Metaverse” has become more extended:
- The metaverse is supposed to be “eternal and infinite,” just like the real universe;
- The metaverse is not just a VR/AR project - it is only a tool;
- The metaverse doesn’t provide only games and entertainment. It is more expansive and covers almost all spheres of human life;
- The metaverse has its own working economy;
- The metaverse provides the ability to transfer your assets from one site to another;
- The metaverse has no owner, but it is decentralized and managed by all players, who can create their own content in it.
Why do we need the Metaverse?
There are as many uses for the Metaverse as there are ideas in people’s heads. For example, the main character, hacker Hiro, from the fantasy story “Snow Crash”, where the term “Metaverse” first appeared, spends his time in an artificial computer-generated world. In it, you can design streets, houses, and zones for fighting without rules, create, and arrange superb performances of artists and mass shows. All this complements reality and makes it more colorful. This Stephenson concept is very much in line with the Metaverse realities we have today. Another good example of using the Metaverse is the Japanese anime “Ghost in the Shell” where people live in the real world but can move to the Net anytime for communication, work, or entertainment. The Wachowski sisters were inspired by the “Ghost in the Shell” concepts to create “The Matrix”, which also used the idea of the Metaverse.
In the virtual reality, there have already been concerts, such as the 12 millionth concert of an American rapper Travis Scott in Fortnite, and weddings (the first one was of an American couple, Dave and Traci Gagnon, on the platform of Vibrela company). Also, the Metaverse will be helpful for work, as buying digital land or real estate for crypto assets is already possible. This will give the owner a unique non-fungible token, and such investments are well paid off in the future. The Central African Republic, for example, has tokenized valuable minerals and is selling them as NFTs. The Central African Republic is also planning to sell virtual land. And that’s just one country that has become interested in this experience. In Spain, Catalonia also intends to create a virtual reality, actively promote virtual tourism, and use the possibilities of the Metaverse for the transport sector.
With the help of the Metaverse, it is possible to diagnose digitized infrastructure objects, travel through cities, and hold lessons. For example, many enthusiasts are already recreating historical events like battles with the help of gaming platforms.
What's up with the Metaverse now?
At the moment, there is no unified Metaverse. We only have the beginnings and concepts from representatives of various corporations and tech companies. Mark Zuckerberg, who owns Meta, sees his Metaverse concept and is creating a network of several social networks for it. He plans to use the Horizon app and Oculus Quest 2 3D glasses for immersion. Zuckerberg plans to build a “3D Internet” where users will be able to become not only the platform’s content consumers but also the creators.
Apple is also engaged in developing applications and technologies for immersive 3D space. According to company representatives, it is not a question of total immersion but only a short stay in the virtual world.
Epic Games, which owns the sensational Fortnite, also said that they will not stay away and are developing their version of the Metaverse.
As for Microsoft, they are involved in developing the Mesh platform, where users can communicate in a virtual space, using 3D models which will be superimposed over reality, like the film. The user will need a special VR headset to get connected to this reality.
Finally, although these ideas have some differences, they share a common feature – the integration of virtual space into the real world, not replacing our environment with a computer simulation. The main task of the Metaverse is not to exist in isolation from reality but to become part of it, entering into everyday life.