Nowadays there's a lot of doubt and curiosity about the constant technological advances. It's normal for people to feel that they have lost track of the constant digital innovations. Some even feel that they're unable to understand certain concepts, such as the most recent one: the metaverse. If somehow you feel that way, there's no need to worry, we'll explain everything you need to know about this exciting and interesting topic. From what is its origin to how many metaverses exist today!
What are metaverses?
Metaverses are virtual worlds that you can access through a series of devices that will create the sensation of being inside them. In the metaverse, all users will be able to interact with these elements as if they were real and tangible. Therefore, it'll be almost like teleporting to a different world through virtual reality glasses.
Thanks to Facebook's announcement, these concepts are starting to gain ground in current conversations. However, virtual worlds are nothing new. And yes, as we have already suggested above, there are a lot of them, especially in the field of video games.
The metaverse doesn't pretend to be a fantasy world. On the contrary, it seeks to be a kind of alternative reality to the one we live in. This means that in this alternate universe we could do the same things we do in our daily routine. Only in this reality we wouldn't have to actually move, and we could live it through an avatar.
Neal Stephenson's novel, Snow Crash (1992) is credited as its source of origin. As surprising as it may seem, this visionary novel from the 1990s explains that the term was born from a combination of the words "meta" and "universe". So we can say that the meaning of metaverse is basically "cyberspace" since it refers to a transcendental universe.
The most curious thing is that in the plot of the novel, the main character, Hiro Protagonist, enters a virtual world in which he can socialize, shop, and defeat enemies through an avatar. This, in fact, is exactly what the metaverse aims to achieve today.
To understand what metaverses are all about in a more practical way, let's highlight some of its features:
- It's an interactive space. Any user in the metaverse will be able to interact with other users through avatars. Moreover, this interaction can generate changes in their environment.
- Regardless of whether it's being used or not, it'll continue to function. This is because it's an autonomous world that will continue to function on its own as a living organism.
- Its environment is completely corporeal. This means that it's subject to the laws of physics and things happen in the same way as in the tangible world.
- As a 3D virtual space, the metaverse proposes to be a place without limits and infinite possibilities. This means that there's no limit to the number of people who can use it at the same time, nor is it intended to determine the activities that can be carried out. Everything is free will, which expands the accessibility that Internet platforms currently offer.
- Metaverses are decentralized, as they're not owned by a particular company or platform. Instead, it's a place of and for the users, who will be able to control all their private data. This is achieved thanks to the Blockchain technology that runs the metaverse, which ensures that all transactions in the virtual world are secure.
- Cryptocurrencies also form a fundamental part of the metaverse. Mainly because they drive the virtual economy of the place. To do so there are only marketplaces where users will be able to buy, sell or exchange all kinds of items as digital assets. This includes avatars, virtual clothing, NFTs or even tickets to social events.
Types of metaverses
We have already established that metaverses are mostly found in the field of video games. These are the most traditional types of metaverses. Some classics such as Grand Theft Auto consist of virtual interaction with other users in an open space that simulates real life.
The clearest example of a metaverse game is Second Life. This was the first case of virtual reality launched in 2003. Just by creating an avatar, anyone can access the platform and start enjoying their second life. Upon entering this world, people start as a resident and this virtual world offers them endless possibilities. From interacting with other avatars to playing with real-life friends who are also users.
Furthermore, in Second Life users can create all kinds of digital products and services in order to later market them on the platform. A very important feature within the metaverses, since it's essential to develop a digital economy that allows the autonomy of the place to grow.
In this case, we have the Roblox metaverse, which is similar to the blockchain ones. This is an online video game platform with a powerful creation system that allows users to create virtual worlds. However, it doesn't use blockchain technology as such, although many video game developers consider that this will be the expected evolution of the platform.
This leads us to define blockchain metaverses which are divided between centralized and decentralized ones. The difference lies mainly in their management. Centralized Blockchain metaverses are controlled by a company, as would be the case of the one Facebook is planning to launch. In these metaverses, the company will have all the users' data and will be the one who manages the course of these data.
On the other hand, the decentralized Blockchain metaverse integrates the purchase of cryptocurrencies and virtual items such as NFT. So its economy is more autonomous and in the hands of the users.