You may have heard of the term “metaverse” in Marvel films, but do you know of its real-life use? Today, millions of people engage with the metaverse and don’t even know they’re doing it. Every time you interact with virtual social spaces, you participate in the metaverse.
However, this grand concept of digital spaces can be challenging to understand, and you might be wondering if the metaverse matters to you at all. With so much marketing hype surrounding the metaverse, it’s essential to know what the term means if you spend a lot of time online.
What Is The Metaverse?
To put it simply, the metaverse is cyberspace. It doesn’t necessarily reflect a specific type of technology; instead, it refers to how people interact with evolving online spaces.
These technologies typically involve virtual reality and virtual avatars in video games. These VR/AR spaces are accessible through consoles, computers, and mobile phones.
In the metaverse, users can also buy and sell physical goods and virtual items using cryptocurrency and other forms of payment. Overall, many experts consider the metaverse a 3D version of the internet that parallels the physical world – it’s not just a video game.
A Quick Rundown Of Metaverse History
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is not responsible for today’s metaverse. In fact, the phrase was coined back in 1992 and has been in use in popular media since.
In his novel Snow Crash, author Neal Stephenson used the term “metaverse” to refer to 3D environments inhabited by digital avatars. In Snow Crash, people used 3D avatars to make marketplace real estate purchases.
Ready Player One
A more recent depiction of the metaverse is in Ready Player One, a novel-turned-movie wherein people entered virtual worlds to work, engage, and shop.
One of the most notable metaverse-related virtual experiences we’ve seen is in Second Life. This open-world simulation game allows users to do everything they would do in the real world but in a digital environment. It was released in 2003 before the mobile internet boom, but it ultimately failed because of a lack of real-time communications.
The Modern Metaverse
As you may have seen in the pop culture metaverse references we mentioned, these online worlds can’t fix problems like a lack of universal healthcare, income inequality, and class disparities. However, today’s outlook on the metaverse isn’t necessarily grim – here’s what the present and potential future of cyberspace look like.
What It’s Supposed To Look Like
The metaverse isn’t a single product or service. Instead, it’s a combination of unique virtual worlds where people can do business and exchange information in ways we already do in real life. Any items you purchase in the metaverse reflect genuine products that you can move across different ecosystems, as well as hold values and functions.
Who Is Involved
Perhaps one of the most notable players in these virtual spaces is Zuckerberg, who invested $10 million in virtual reality technology. Other key players include NVIDIA Corp, a computer graphics chipmaker; and Unity Software, a software maker that provides the underlying frameworks that push metaverse capabilities forward; and Microsoft, investing almost $70 billion in the world’s biggest gaming communities.
Ultimately, these companies’ metaverse vision is that online worlds will not be centralized – instead, metaverses will be unique and multifaceted.
What You’re Supposed To Do
So, if being in the metaverse is like mimicking what you already do in real life, what’s the point? Because everything on the internet is instant, the metaverse aims to make everything accessible, compatible, and transferable.
For instance, if you want to attend a concert and buy merchandise from an event on the opposite side of the world, the metaverse allows you to do that. Instead of purchasing a plane ticket and standing in line to buy a t-shirt, you can browse products at a virtual stall and receive them immediately.
Why Does The Metaverse Matter?
While engaging in the metaverse isn’t necessary, there are many reasons the world’s biggest tech companies are investing in it. Over the coming years, the metaverse can replace the way we shop, learn, and communicate in real life. For example, you don’t even have to visit a college campus to get a degree – you can learn exclusively through unique 3D spaces that make information and education more accessible.
The Metaverse In Today’s Digital Economy
Nowadays, digital economies are a primary growth driver of world economies. While buying a virtual asset from a metaverse company isn’t as much of an investment opportunity as it is in a physical space, it can become value-adding in the long run and even earn you real money. As such, it should come as no surprise that NFTs are making appearances across so many digital platforms.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) allow people to own virtual goods and make money by exchanging them. Suppose you buy an NFT in Metaverse 1. Because you’ll have proof of ownership, you can redeem the same NFT in Metaverse 2 and 3, creating a unique financial system that exists only in a digital environment.
Closing Thoughts On The Metaverse
While the immersive experiences you’ll get with today’s metaverse are unlike they’ve ever been, this space still has a long way to go. Problems like accessibility and transferring virtual items across platforms remain prominent, requiring more time and effort from major technology companies.
For now, metaverse development has made significant progress but will likely stay intermittent until industry partners can turn it into something more value-adding.