When the virtual and real worlds collide

6 Min Read

You’ve probably heard that the Metaverse is on its way. But what does it really mean? Jonathan from Metaverse News investigates the topic, which is essentially about a future in which we would connect with digital avatars over the internet in a virtual mirror reflection of the current world.

We often look to the sci-fi world for inspiration in our attempt to build a common vocabulary regarding the changes that technology causes in our society in a quickly digitized world. This is also true of the notion of metaverse (in English, “metaverse”), which was initially presented by the sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash. The metaverse is even closer than you may believe since although we have seen several metaverse-like ideas, such as Second Life, Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite, we have yet to see any hint of a completely functional one metaverse. But, as near as it is, understanding it is difficult.

The phrase “metaverse” is a combination of the terms “meta” and “universe,” and it refers to a shared virtual environment that integrates with the actual world and allows users to freely interact with one another. There is no one definition of the phrase since there are several perspectives on it, although most definitions incorporate AR, virtual worlds, and the Internet. The aim is that the metaverse will ultimately become a regular, if not continuous, component of our daily lives. In this sense, it is a descendent of the internet as we know it, and is more akin to a shared place connected to a single world, the metaverse.

In terms of social interaction in a virtual environment established with avatars and the ability to purchase virtual items, Fortnite is an apparent illustration of how a game might serve as a metaverse. Fortnite has approximately 350 million registered users, with over 2.6 billion social connections. Fortnite Public Relations

It’s easy to dismiss it as “yet another phrase” for the same thing we’ve always spoken about using names like cyberspace, web 3.0, and so on. To some degree, it is, but to really grasp what the term “metaverse” entails, it is necessary to stare at some of the unique qualities that tech analyst and venture investor Matthew Ball highlights in a January 2021 article:

Although there will be separate happenings, like in “real life,” it must be synchronized and live. The metaverse is an experience that occurs constantly and in real time for everyone. Fortnite’s live performances are a prime illustration of this.

There must be no limit to the number of people who may participate at the same time – everyone can be a member of the metaverse and take part in events and activities at the same time. Over five shows, the American rapper Travis Scott drew over 27 million Fortnite players.

It must have a fully functional economy in which people may create, own, invest in, sell, and be compensated for a broad range of “labor” that creates “value” that others recognize. Roblox is a real example, where players contribute to the creation of virtual clothing and things, as well as complete worlds that other users may purchase.

It must be a multi-dimensional experience that spans both the digital and physical worlds, with both private and public networks and experiences. This is particularly true of the metaverse, which may be observed, for example, in AR (augmented reality, ed.) as a technology that integrates data from the actual environment with virtual data, such as via the use of visuals and music. As a result, you gain an additional layer of information, as shown with Pokémon GO.

At first sight, the word metaverse may seem to be very similar to cyberspace, which has evolved into a term for networked digital technology and is often associated with the Internet to a larger degree than the complete virtual world that the metaverse symbolizes. VR, AR, MR, and other emerging “immersive” media are also part of the metaverse. Our physical environment has been blending with the virtual world during the past several decades.

This has been accelerated in particular during the society’s shutdown in connection with Corona when most of us have actually experienced how a big portion of our ordinary existence has gone into the virtual world – or the metaverse – which many feel is in the process of emerging. There seems to be a broad agreement that we have reached a stage where technological progress in the sector has matured, which is partially owing to the huge demand for virtual experiences during the shutdown, but also where we were headed previously. Over the next decade, we should anticipate the metaverse to flourish as new areas of the universe are constructed on gaming and technology firms like Epic Games (Fortnite), Facebook (Horizon), and the other big market participants.

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