By Scott Camball
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or taken a deliberate digital detox, you won’t have been able to avoid the news about Facebook heavily investing into the Metaverse by hiring 10,000 specialized engineers in the next five years and transforming from a social media-focused company to a social technology company called “Meta,” which is short for “Metaverse.” But what exactly is the Metaverse?
Facebook’s idea of the Metaverse is a network that combines online gaming, social media, and business collaboration in a virtual reality. It enables users to interact and communicate in the virtual world via a VR headset. It’s a real time living experience that never pauses or ends, like a video game would. One of the main characteristics is the unprecedented interoperability. But what does that mean?
Remember that plan to go out with your friends that keeps getting cancelled? Well, now you can do that from the comfort of your own home. The Metaverse is a full social system and economy across the real and virtual world. The avatars’ experiences, content, and goods can move seamlessly.
What’s the History of the Metaverse?
The idea is nothing new; the idea was first mentioned in Vernor Vinge’s 1981 novel, True Names. The story was about hackers entering a full-immersion virtual world called the “Other Plane.” Many other books and movies in the 1980s also played with the idea. Neal Stephenson coined the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 dystopian science fiction novel, Snow Crash.
The first actual virtual multiplayer worlds (such as Cybertown) that resembled a Metaverse were developed in the 1990s. However, the idea did not really take off until the release of Second Life in June 2003. In February 2020, the fist decentralized, block chain-based Metaverse, called Decentraland, was opened to the public.
What’s the hype behind the Metaverse?
The gaming industry has started shifting from the developer-earning model to the play-to-earn model, resulting in income generated for gamers. The Metaverse is believed to increase online earning potential.
A Metaverse can be powered by blockchain technology, where users can purchase virtual real estate and other forms of digital assets using crypto currencies. Think about the concept of buying a gun skin or car design from one game but then being able to use it in all the games you play.
Gaming platform The Sandbox has shifted from traditional gaming to cryptocurrency gaming. The Sandbox Gamer Maker console enables users to produce games from scratch, play other people’s games, and purchase digital assets.
Metaverse zealots see it as the next revolution of internet development. At the moment, web users interact with each other through social media platforms or message applications. The concept of a Metaverse creates a new form of online space that broadens people’s interaction and experiences multi-dimensionally.
The global COVID outbreak increased the need for people to work remotely and enhance online interactions. The concept of the Metaverse sparked interest from investors who believe the Metaverse will be part of the “Next Big Thing.”
Microsoft is looking to transform the way businesses and operations happen altogether by creating an entire digital twin of the real world, which people interact with through mixed reality. This objective is already happening today; everything modeled in the Metaverse mirrors the status of its physical twin, including the interactions and relations among all of its elements.
Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms, a new way for office workers to connect using virtual reality and an Oculus headset. They are planning to transform their social media company into a Metaverse company in the next five years.
The term “Metaverse” has become popular in Silicon Valley. Microsoft has talked about the concept of merging the digital and physical world, and popular children’s game Robolox (RBLX.N) labels itself a Metaverse company,while Epic Games’s Fortnite also describes itself as part of the Metaverse.
Musicians can also host virtual concerts on these platforms. For instance, celebrities like Ariana Grande performed virtually in Fortnite back in September 2021. Also, Alison Wonderland and Paris Hilton were some of the headlining acts in Decentraland’s Metaverse Music Festival in October 2021.
Fashion companies are also trying out virtual clothing that people’s avatars can wear in a Metaverse environment.
Facebook’s Ambition to Conquer the Metaverse
Facebook, now also known as Meta, has been at the forefront of VR and AR, investing billions of dollars into companies such as Oculus VR headsets, AR sunglasses, and wearable technologies.
Facebook believes that the Metaverse has potential to unlock possibilities to access new social and economic opportunities. However, Facebook does not believe this transition will happen overnight; they predict the process of building the true Metaverse will take another 10-15 years. Mark Zuckerberg thinks of the Metaverse as the next generation of the internet. Rather than a flat panel 2D screen, it is essentially the 3D internet of the future.
What can we do in the Metaverse?
The possibilities are endless in the Metaverse. Imagine being able to do everything you do in the physical world and extend that in the Metaverse. You can learn, work, earn money, and enjoy all kinds of virtual entertainment, including adult entertainment. In the future, a big part of our lives could be inside a Metaverse, whether you like it or not.