Everything you need to know to understand the metaverse in today’s newsletter.
The metaverse is a word you’ve probably been hearing or seeing since that year. Chances are someone somewhere said that the metaverse will replace the internet and that we will all live in it. Maybe Facebook, Sandbox, Roblox or some other company will try to take it over? Or maybe it has something to do with NFT? If you don’t know what NFT is then I refer you to the previous newsletter where I describe the issue.
The metaverse is hard to explain for the simplest reason – it doesn’t physically exist. In one sense it is the future of the internet, and in another it is a way of explaining all the current trends in the infrastructure of the online world, especially the development of real-time 3D worlds. I’ll try to put this issue into perspective with two examples.
Will our normal meetings take place in cyberspace?
For some, especially the younger ones, they already take place this way, for example in games like Roblox or Minecraft.
The metaverse is a concept familiar to science fiction for decades. The 2018 film Player One takes us to 2045 and a virtual world created by James Halliday, who hides the keys to his fortune for a worthy player to find, and a teenager, Wade, sets out on a journey to find them. The Roblox game works in just this way. The goal of Roblox is to build a metaverse, bringing billions of people together to play games, meet, work and fuel the Roblox virtual economy using Robux’s own currency.
Roblox writes about its vision as follows:
“From the beginning, we built Roblox as a company with one platform, one name and one purpose that would serve billions of users in the future. The ultimate ‘product specification’ has always been reality modelling, based on the belief that the more accurately we can simulate the real world, the more utility we can deliver. Looking ahead, we intend to maintain this goal as a single platform company, even as we expand the ways in which we enable people around the world to play, learn and work together.”
In short, Roblox allows its users to build a virtual world the way they like, and as the economy grows and expands, Roblox will collect a portion of every transaction.
Roblox is not the only virtual space that seeks to bring us into a 3D world. Epic Games, which released Fortnite, is pursuing its own ideas, such as a Travis Scott concert or the premiere of a clip from the latest Star Wars movie in the Fortnite world.
A more accessible example of the metaverse is the Facebook we know so well. A few months ago, Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg changed the company’s name to Meta Platforms Inc. or Meta for short. Zuckerberg explains the metaverse as a “virtual environment” that you can enter, not just view on your device screen. In practice, it is a world of endless, connected virtual environments where people can meet, play, work and create using apps, virtual or augmented reality glasses or other devices.Metaverse also connects other aspects of online life, such as social media and shopping. Metaverse aims for the user to lead the same life online as they do in real life.
What can and will we already be able to do in the metaverse?
We can create or buy digital clothes, artwork, walk around the world, fly into space, be at a concert.
How do we define the metaverse then?
We can use the definition of Matthew Ball, author of Metaverse Primer:
“The metaverse is a vast network of persistent, real-time rendered three-dimensional worlds and simulations that provide a continuum of identities, objects, histories, payments and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”
Or a very simple and concise definition by Facebook engineers:
“The metaverse is a collection of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who are not in the same physical space as you are.”
But before we all find ourselves in the metaverse, the co-creators of this world collide with some obstacles.
One of these is how to invite people who don’t play games etc. At the moment, the largest group involved in the metaverse are children, teenagers and some virtual world enthusiasts.
Technological limitations are another obstacle. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies need to be more advanced to create a real sense of being as the user moves into the virtual world. The devices that are currently available do not allow for very long comfortable use and are not sharp enough to provide realistic images. Technology companies are investing incredible resources in AR and VR technologies with the hope that they will take computing to a new level and perhaps one day replace smartphones with computerised glasses.
What will happen next? It all depends on how the technology develops, but it’s worth keeping an eye on this thread or at least having a little insight into it.
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