The Metaverse’s Incest Origins and Future, Explained

Amidst all the talk about the metaverse, I want to talk about the regular Internet: a digital space where people can share the multitude of content they’ve created, meeting each other through online communities. and troll each other on social media. However, there is a more precise term used to describe this iteration of the internet, a term commonly used in the tech space: web 2.0. Eager for the next generation, the new generation of the internet — or we say, web 3.0 — are crypto investors, venture capitalists, and companies aspiring to own a stake in the stuff. which they see as an explosive circuit of business opportunities.

You can think of web 3.0 as a concept of a decentralized internet built on top of blockchains, a hypothetical domain that is not monopolized by one or even a few corporations. In short, it’s a new future where people can not only produce and own any content and digital assets they like, but even monetize it, monetize it — and yes it’s like what many companies are mining with NFT . Even Mike Shinoda from LinkedIn Park, unfortunately.

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One thing that has sprung up from all this jargon-laden chatter is the metaverse, a term we’ll soon get tired of hearing about when a year ends and the heat death of the universe beckons. The reason why we’ve heard so much about it is because the technology that underpins the metaverse is inexplicably tied to all of this web 3.0 buzz: cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, reality. virtual reality and video games in general; After all, the concept of the metaverse is reflected after them. But even the buzzword “it” at this point, seems like a reality that only a handful of enthusiasts, as well as venture capitalists, are invested in.

That said, companies are starting to make bigger strides in realizing this virtual space, aka the next iteration of the internet. Facebook has Horizon Worlds, a metaverse that looks pretty bleak at the moment; Epic Games is developing its own metaverse, starting with Fortnite, its flagship game; and some tech startups have even embraced the word, with the buzzword found even in a wide range of products during this year’s CES tech show as seen in this amazing theme (there’s a “metaverse for portability,” a “metaverse gesture recognition solution,” and even an opportunity to “create your own metaverse”).

metaverse 3

But where did this metaverse fixation come from? It stems from Mark Zuckerberg — and countless others’ admiration for the 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash.. What makes today’s fantasy fantasy of the metaverse so ironic is that it’s inspired by a story set in a dystopian high-tech future in which megacities, wealthy businessmen, and the mafia most have replaced governments, stemming from insatiable corporate greed.

In this story by fantasy author Neal Stephenson, the metaverse is a virtual space that people can access by wearing virtual reality glasses or through public terminals in booths, while express yourself through your avatar — just like playing an MMORPG. It’s also a for-profit venue owned by a consortium called the Global Multimedia Protocols Group, turning this space into a private, digital realm that people just want to get out of for the sake of physical reality. Their backwardness is simply too difficult to deal with. However, this only serves as inspiration for Silicon Valley and today’s game studios, as it turns into a prophetic vision where capitalism will eventually work. And why aren’t they drawn to it? According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the metaverse is estimated to be $800 billion market opportunity for businesses.

Metaverse 2

However, the reality of the metaverse is more confusing than the hype it is gaining today. No one will enter the metaverse as Ready Player One envisioned just now, or at least not for a year. However, virtual reality is far from being widely applied outside of enthusiasts. Zoom fatigue is common, especially in our day and age with endless online meetings and asking people to step into another virtual world is exhausting. There are also a host of problems with the current iteration of the virtual world, where the so-called precursor to the metaverse: sexual harassment, for example, is a problem in Facebook’s World Horizon.

At the same time, there is still no universal definition of what constitutes a metaverse. Anything can be considered a metaverse at this point—Georgia Professor of Technology Janet Murray has even suggested that the metaverse is essentially “a magical Zoom meeting has all the playful releases of Animal Crossing.” That means if Nintendo wants to, then Animal Crossing is now a metaverse, as soon as we figure out how to conduct encounters on our paradise islands.

metaverse animal movement

Even if it’s still pretty broadly defined, the biggest proponents of the metaverse have their own meanings. For Facebook, its vision of the metaverse is framed in mostly utopian phrases and has been described as “the next evolution of social connection,“A collective project […] will be created by people all over the world, and open to everyone. For Epic, the metaverse arose out of Fortnite’s popularity as both a game and a social platform, serving as a venue for players to hang out, and even attend live events and sessions. virtual concert. And for Roblox, the company most notably exploiting its developers and child players, is also planning to build a metaverse around its games. Its chief technology officer, Dan Sturman, has said that Roblox will design a metaverse that caters to the needs of players, with tools that allow these players to create the metaverse they want.

That’s why right now, no one really knows what the metaverse will look like, other than being a tech haven as envisioned for the new age of the Internet. Will it be a single, expansive virtual universe owned by a single tech corporation, or a series of alternative worlds that people can explore? If the previous Snow Crash had anything to say about it, the metaverse would still be a world characterized by social stratification—one where the quality of your avatar would be indicative of your economic status. your socioeconomic status. The Metaverse will be a place dominated by cryptocurrencies — and by extension NFTs, offering endless opportunities to earn and play like working in this universe. Metaverse will be a corporate-run setting where wealthy oligarchs will dictate the terms of existence, turning the virtual world into a digital consumption black hole. The Metaverse will also be a place full of memes — its own language is being exploited for more nefarious means (you can read Snow Crash to find out what happens).

All of this points to the horrible, backward future we’re headed for; it’s where we’ll eventually abandon our physical reality for a hypothetical new universe, while still carrying the baggage of our real-world illnesses. We can brace ourselves for its imminent arrival, burying our heads in the hopes of a benevolent metaverse that the Zuckerbergs of the tech and games industry have promised. Or we can resist this theoretical reality and become more active participants in shaping the future of our internet and games.

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