Flash info: we are already living in the metaverse. But not everyone can figure out how, or even know what it means.
And no, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent it. The term “metaverse” is nothing new. The concept has been around since 1992, when author Neal Stephenson (who has been credited with coining the term) used it in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash”.
In the dystopian, cyberpunk novel, he envisioned realistic avatars that would meet in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
Please explain further.
“Metaverse” can be divided into “meta” and “verse”. The word meta has many meanings, but in this case, its meaning is probably related to the definitions of the ancient Greeks: “beyond”, “after” or “behind”.
Meanwhile, “verse” comes from the word “universe” and is often used as a suffix to describe a specific sphere or area. Take for example the word “Twitterverse” or “Twittersphere”, used to describe the spaces in which users interact on the social media platform.
Together, the two words convey the meaning of “beyond the universe”, which is generally understood as a virtual world beyond, or covering, our physical world.
At its core, the Metaverse is an imaginary virtual space where you can live multiple lives, be whoever you want, make friends from all over the world, do whatever you want, and more. It is an extension of what you can achieve in real life.
Essentially, if you’ve played a role-playing game or a life simulation game, there’s a good chance you’re already part of the metaverse.
Whether it’s The Sims, Second Life, or Genshin Impact, the acts of playing such games and living your virtual life in them while fostering social connections (in the latter two) are all about what you would do in a metaverse. .
At Vulcan Post, we even used Gather, a virtual space for friends and family, but more generally, for colleagues to “meet”, discuss and “work” as they did in person, from home, this which is exactly what we did and still do for our Friday “office” lunches.
When creating our Gather avatars, some of us chose to go the more realistic route by designing avatars that look like us, while some of us chose to be a pirate, for example. (Yes, that was me. No, I don’t want to be a pirate in real life, but in the metaverse, I can be whoever I want to be.)
Okay, but aren’t augmented reality and virtual reality part of the metaverse?
Yes they are. But they don’t have to be to make the metaverse a metaverse. They are more of a modern addition to the basic concept of the Metaverse as we know it, taking the virtual universe to the next level.
Big tech companies are capitalizing on this, with Meta (formerly Facebook) announcing its own version of the Metaverse, with the use of its Oculus Quest VR headsets so users can shop, socialize, go to work, and more, across the virtual world.
Just imagine not needing to leave your home, yet being able to be as “present” as possible in all of these different contexts. But if you still wanted a taste of the real world, well, Meta has something for you too: AR glasses.
It’s still in the works, but the company’s goal is to enable users to have a hybrid reality. You can still invite your friends to your current home, but they don’t really have to be there. Just put on your AR glasses and enjoy the night with your friends’ avatars.
Of course, this ambitious version of the Metaverse hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet, and there aren’t any notable examples in existence to speak of as yet.
Why should I care about all of this?
Whether we like it or not, this will undoubtedly be our future. Almost everything about how we interact with each other online today is a component of the metaverse.
The pandemic has also accelerated our adoption of the metaverse. For me, it’s thanks to Genshin Impact and Gather, which I relied on a lot at the start of the pandemic to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to live a fully virtual life, but I won’t say no to trying it. Because we don’t have anything concrete yet, it’s easy to see this future through rose-tinted glasses.
It may all sound very interesting and exciting at first glance, but not enough research has yet been done to understand the impact of the metaverse on the human psyche. This is where we will need to tread carefully, point out issues, and pay attention to criticisms of these technologies.
On the bright side, the Metaverse could hold plenty of future jobs as well, as talent will be needed to flesh out these virtual worlds, the environments they contain, the avatars people can use, and more.
There is money to be made in the industry, with Morgan Stanley, a U.S. multinational investment bank and financial services firm, declaring the metaverse to be an addressable $ 8 trillion market.
This also includes the potential of the metaverse when it comes to advertising and e-commerce opportunities.
As non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also now in the gamified world, it’s likely that we’ll see NFT-savvy brands selling us digital assets in the metaverse.
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NFTs are still slowly finding their way into Malaysia, and we’re mostly seeing artists taking advantage of this trend at the moment.
There have been a few companies that have attempted to publish their own NFTs, but it seems that this is not really widespread among SMEs here yet.
But steps are being taken to catch up. Recently, iCandy acquired Lemon Sky Studios with the intention of developing casual and AAA games as part of their pro-metaverse and blockchain initiatives.
It’s still early days, but the development of the Metaverse and the possible pros and cons that we’ll learn from it is certainly something worth watching.
- Read what we wrote about NFTs and how they are developing in Malaysia here.
Featured Image Credit: Meta
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