Today it seems like everyone and their parent company are talking about the “Metaverse” as the next big thing that will revolutionize our online lives. But everyone seems to have their own idea of what “the metaverse” means – that is, if they have any real idea of what it means at all.
The term “Metaverse” was originally used in Neal Stephensons groundbreaking cyberpunk novel from 1992, Snow crash. In the book, the Metaverse (always capitalized in Stephenson’s fiction) is a common “imaginary place” that is “made accessible to the public via the global fiber optic network” and projected onto virtual reality glasses. In it, developers can “build buildings, parks, signs, and things that don’t exist in reality, such as huge floating overhead light shows, special neighborhoods that ignore the rules of three-dimensional space-time, and free combat zones.” where people can go to hunt and kill each other. “
Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues mentioned the word “Metaverse” more than 80 times in less than 90 minutes during Keynote presentation on Facebook Connect last weekwhere the company announced its new name. But Stephenson did made it clear that “there was no communication between me and FB and no business relationship.” This means that Facebook’s interpretation of the “metaverse” could end up being very different from what Stephenson originally described.
While Meta’s rebranding is driving most of the Metaverse conversation these days, it’s nearly 30 years on Snow crash have seen many online networks embodying some or most of what Stephenson’s book describes. These efforts to create “the metaverse” involved numerous online games and hangouts that captured some of the key concepts of the metaverse without ever using the term.
“But here we are,” as John Carmack, CTO of Oculus Consulting recently put it. “Mark Zuckerberg has decided that now is the time to build the metaverse, so huge wheels are turning and resources are flowing and the effort is definitely being made.”
So is the Metaverse the next big step that will revolutionize the way we all connect? Is it just a repackaging of existing technologies in a new catch-all concept? Or is it just the newest buzzword marketing term?
The answer to that depends on what you mean by “metavers”.
Definition of the metaverse
In his Facebook Connect keynote last week, Zuckerberg said that “the best way to understand the metaverse is to experience it for yourself, but it’s a little difficult because it doesn’t fully exist yet”. In our view, it doesn’t seem like the best way to ask people to try something that doesn’t exist in order to provide a full understanding of your bold new business direction.
Elsewhere in the keynote, Zuckerberg described a grandiose vision of the metaverse as “an even more immersive and embodied Internet” in which “you can do almost anything you can imagine – meet with friends and family, work, study, play , shopping, creating – as well as completely new categories that don’t really fit our current idea of computers or phones. “That helps a little, but any description that includes the words” almost anything you can think of “is like this broadly, to mean almost meaningless.
After breaking the vision of meta – looking at the history of the metaverse both as a concept and as embodied in several different online spaces – we identified the following elements that, taken together, appear to define a metaverse. Anything in which a company uses the term includes any or all of the following:
A common social space with avatars representing users
Zuckerberg speaks about this basic building block of the Metaverse concept when he calls for a more “embodied” Internet. You may be represented by a username or thumbnail on a website or social network. In the metaverse you are represented by a customizable avatar that can move, speak and / or perform animated actions.
These kind of avatars have been common in all kinds of online gaming and social spaces since the 90s (someone still remembers it Habbo Hotel?). But an avatar’s loyalty and abilities can vary widely from service to service. Recent advances in virtual reality have enabled users to truly embody their fantastic avatars by looking through their virtual eyes and using hand tracking controllers to gesture and interact with virtual objects. Rooms like VRChat show how elaborate these VR avatars can now be.
A constant “world” in which the avatars live and with which they can interact
In some cases, this means a virtual world that mimics the real world space constraints and land shortages, as in Second Life‘s discreet plots. In other cases, it just means that users share specially created rooms for a particular game or time sensitive event, such as a meeting room. B. Recently held multimedia concerts in Fourteen days.
In an idealized metaverse, every single user is shares a single virtual worldwhere items and property persist for everyone between online sessions. However, for technical reasons, many modern metaverse-like spaces split users into shard servers on which a small subset of users can interact.
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