- Dec 13, 2021
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( Chap 1 )
With the efforts of the big players in the technology industry to build the Metaverse world, many people predict that "Metaverse" will become the next popular keyword after "Internet". But is this virtual world where people can connect with each other being realized or just a concept that belongs to the future?
When Cathy Hackl's son (USA) wanted to celebrate his 9th birthday, he didn't ask to decorate the house or prepare drinks. Instead, he asked if he could celebrate his birthday on Roblox. On a digital platform that allows users to play and create countless games, Hackl's son and friends party with their virtual avatars.
Roblox may not be so popular among people over 25, but the 13-year-old platform is booming. It's both a venue for free games, a creative tool that allows users to create their own new activities, and an online marketplace to sell those experiences, as well as other games. by-products such as costumes for the user's avatar.
This is also part of the "Metaverse" - the idea of a centralized virtual world, a "place" parallel to the physical world - that became a major trend in 2021 with the decision to change its name to Meta in Facebook's October.
The term was coined by writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel "Snow Crash", then reimagined as Oasis in Ernest Cline's novel "Ready Player One".
In the novel, a utopian Metaverse is portrayed as a new frontier where social norms and value systems can be rewritten, freed from cultural and economic sclerosis. But in reality, often the Metaverse becomes the virtual refuge of a real world that has collapsed.
As a buzzword, Metaverse refers to the range of experiences, environments and virtual assets that have become commonplace during the pandemic - when all activities have moved online. Together, these new technologies hint at the next evolution of the Internet.
Video games like Roblox, Fortnite, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, in which players can build their own worlds, take the form of Metaverse, as do most social networks. If you own an NFT or even some crypto, you are part of the Metaverse experience yourself.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are also very close to Metaverse. If you have attended a meeting or a party using a digital avatar, you are entering the world of Metaverse.
A simpler way to think of the Metaverse is that you can imagine yourself in the movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” – you can participate in any experience or activity and are capable of almost any need your needs in a world of people you know.
But it's important to note that Metaverse is not a game, a piece of hardware, or an online experience. This is like saying World of Warcraft, iPhone or Google is the Internet.
It is the digital world, devices, services, websites, etc. while the Internet is a broad set of protocols, technologies and languages, plus access devices and content as well as the experience that lies above them. Metaverse will be similar.
Why does the Metaverse make sense?
Even if Metaverse doesn't live up to the wondrous visions of sci-fi authors, as a new computing platform or content medium, it has the potential to generate trillions of dollars in value. Metaverse's vision is to be the gateway to most digital experiences and lay the groundwork for the next mode of employment.
A world built on blockchain
Today, nobody owns the Internet, but nearly all of the top Internet companies are among the 10 most valuable public companies on Earth. And if Metaverse truly serves as the "successor" of the web - with greater reach, time of use and commercial activity - then the potential of the Metaverse economy will be much greater.
Metaverse will create the same variety of opportunities as we've seen with the web - new companies, products and services will emerge to manage everything from payment processing to identity verification, recruitment, distribution advertising distribution, content creation, security,...
The Decentraland virtual world is an example. Earlier this year, the price of MANA, Decentraland's currency, started climbing the charts on Coinbase. Decentraland founders described the platform as the infrastructure for building places (Decentraland land and currency contracts run on Ethereum).
Dozens of Decentraland continuously create scenes and experiences for users, like concerts and art exhibitions. There are also casinos where you can gamble with MANA.
Recently, Republic Realm, a company that calls itself a “digital real estate company”, purchased the NFT of a virtual property of 259 parcels of land in Decentraland for more than 1.2 million MANA, at the exchange rate. Current exchange rate is more than 900,000 USD.
Sotheby's, which acquired a small piece of land in Decentraland's art district and built a replica of its London galleries, recently wrapped up its first show in the Metaverse.
Michael Bouhanna, who runs the sale, estimates that 90% of the gallery's 3,200 visitors don't know what Sotheby's is or do, but said the event is helpful to help current customers shape information about the NFT that the auction house is selling.
After Facebook changed its name to Meta, investors outside of the crypto space became more aware of the importance of Metaverse as well. Big brands like Adidas and Atari have spent a lot of money buying virtual lands tokenized as NFT in Decentraland for more than 52K USD (18K MANA).
Real money in the virtual world Metaverse
More broadly, Metaverse will change the way we allocate resources and monetize.
With Metaverse, workers who choose to live outside of cities will be able to participate in the “high value” economy through virtual labour. As consumers move more towards virtual goods, services and experiences, we will also see changes in where we live, how infrastructure is built, and who does what.
Consider the "Gold Farming" example. Not long after the commercial economy of the game appeared, many "players" - often employed by a large company and often in low-income countries - would spend a working day collecting digital resources and sell them to other gamers - usually high earners in the West.
While currently this “work” is often repetitive, unskilled, and limited to a few applications, its diversity and value will grow as Metaverse evolves.
Another example is blockchain-based games where players can turn their time into cryptocurrency. In the popular Axie Infinity game, players purchase, train, and breed Pokemon-like creatures.
Each of these creatures themselves are NFTs registered on the Ethereum blockchain, and have a vibrant marketplace that allows players to sell creatures for cryptocurrency. Axie Infinity became famous worldwide during the pandemic; especially in the Philippines - when it has helped players of all ages play for money (Play to Earn).