What is the Metaverse? Everything You Need to Know
The metaverse is the latest buzzword in the crypto industry. The term largely refers to an immersive virtual world where people can connect using new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
Many argue that the term “metaverse” didn’t become a household term until Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in October 2021. At that time, the company announced plans to spend $10 billion over the next year on technologies to build on its vision of the metaverse.
Furthermore, the metaverse is considered the next iteration of the Internet. It will take many forms, including games, online communities, and business meetings where people collaborate through a digital facsimile or avatar of themselves.
What is The Metaverse, Exactly?
While the term has been kicking around for the past few years, the word “metaverse” was actually coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In his book, Stephenson referred to the metaverse as an all-encompassing digital world that exists parallel to the real world. But in 2022, experts still aren’t sure if the IRL metaverse could evolve into anything similar.
The metaverse is a concept of an online 3D virtual space that connects users in all aspects of their lives. It would connect multiple platforms, similar to the Internet containing different websites accessible through a single browser.
The concept was developed in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash. However, while the idea of a metaverse was once fiction, it now looks like it could be a reality in the future.
The metaverse will be powered by augmented reality, with each user controlling a character or avatar. For example, you can attend a mixed-reality meeting with an Oculus VR headset in your virtual office, finish work and relax in a blockchain-based game, and then manage your crypto portfolio and finances, all within the metaverse.
You can already see some aspects of the metaverse in existing virtual video game worlds. Games like Second Life and Fortnite or work socialization tools like Gather.town bring together multiple elements of our lives in online worlds. While these apps are not the metaverse, they are somewhat similar. The metaverse doesn’t exist yet.
In addition to supporting games or social networks, the metaverse will combine economies, digital identity, decentralized government, and other applications. Even today, the creation of users and the ownership of valuable items and coins help to develop a single, united metaverse. All of these features give blockchain the potential to power this future technology.
Gaming World First to Adopt Metaverse
While the metaverse is much larger than a video game, the gaming world seems to have already taken its most rudimentary form. Take, for example, an online shooter like Fortnite, where users have a personal avatar to participate in and interact with other players’ avatars, while also earning virtual currency to unlock outfits for their avatars.
Perhaps the closest existing iteration to the intended metaverse is the game Second Life, a simulation game that allows users to experience virtual reality in which their avatars can shop, eat, shower, and do everything they would in real life.
According to technologists, the metaverse will take the virtual reality experience to the next level, allowing users to float in the virtual world to do everything from buying land and hosting parties to even getting married through digital avatars.
The Role of Crypto in Metaverse
The games provide the 3D aspect of the metaverse, but they don’t cover everything needed in a virtual world that can cover all aspects of life. Crypto can offer the other key parts required, such as digital proof of ownership, transfer of value, governance, and accessibility. But what exactly do these mean?
If in the future, we work, socialize, and even buy virtual items in the metaverse, we need a secure way to show ownership. We also need to feel safe transferring these items and money around the metaverse. Ultimately, we’ll also want to play a role in the decision-making that takes place in the metaverse if it’s going to be such a big part of our lives.
Some video games already contain some basic solutions, but many developers use crypto and blockchain as better options. Blockchain provides a decentralized and transparent way of dealing with issues, while game development is more centralized.
The Role of NFTs in Metaverse
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) play a significant role in the utility and popularity of the metaverse. NFTs are a secure type of digital asset based on the same blockchain technology used by cryptocurrencies. Instead of currency, an NFT can represent a piece of art, a song, or digital real estate. An NFT gives the owner a kind of digital deed or proof of ownership that can be bought or sold in the metaverse.
Metaverse Properties bills itself as the world’s first virtual real estate company. The company acts as an agent to facilitate the purchase or rental of property or land in various virtual worlds of the metaverse, including Decentraland, Sandbox, Somnium, and Upland. Offerings include conference and retail spaces, art galleries, family homes, and “gathering places.”
While the metaverse has created opportunities for startups like Metaverse Properties to offer digital products, established physical companies are also joining. For example, Nike acquired RTFKT, a startup that makes unique virtual sneakers and digital gadgets using NFT, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality. On his website, RTFKT said that he was “born into the metaverse, and this has defined his feel to this day.”