- Hailed as the next big thing, the idea of having a separate life existing only in digital space through virtual reality experience makes investors and users alike salivate at the prospect of striking gold and jumping ship early.
- But what exactly is the metaverse? Is it worth the hype?
- When will it start, and most importantly – will my avatar have to look like me?
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- 1. Zuckerberg, Meta, and the new rush of gold
- 2. New app to rule all the apps
- 3. How to join the metaverse?
- 4. How to make money in the metaverse?
Zuckerberg, Meta, and the new rush of gold
In October 2021, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg announced that his social media company, Facebook Inc., will change its name to Meta, thus opening a new chapter in the history of how we interact with our world and each other: by building a metaverse, vaguely described as a digital extension of the physical world accessed by virtual and augmented reality.
of American companies wanting to gain profit in the metaverse plan to hire employees with retail-related skills in VR [PWC]
by this year, according to estimates, the percentage of people spending an hour a day in metaverse will reach 25% [Gartner]
Backed by spending a hefty sum of $10 billion dollars to design a variety of technologies to materialize this futuristic idea, it sure attracted a lot of attention all over the world. It wasn’t an entirely novel idea. The name itself comes from a 1992 novel by Neal Stepheson, titled Snow Crash. The irony of borrowing concepts from a dystopian story warning its readers of the dangers of technology such as the metaverse was lost on the media giant.
New app to rule all the apps
In fact, the basic components of the metaverse have all existed before. Just when Stephenson was writing his book, although primitive, first VR headsets were becoming available to consumers.
Some might argue that the 2002 massively multiplayer online role-playing video game Second Life paved the way for the metaverse.
The players were embodied in the avatars, and the gameplay consisted of hanging out with each other in the virtual world, just like Zuckerberg and his company envisioned. The evolution of that concept, enhanced by the use of VR headsets, happened in 2017 with VRChat. Is that what the CEO of Meta, a company formerly known as Facebook Inc., had in mind?
So, you might ask: what is the metaverse at the moment? It’s an idea. A broad concept of interlacing technologies, all working in synergy. Something that sounds vague enough to make the imagination of the investors at the end of the quarter work.
Just as the internet, at its beginning, in the early 90s, when people were unsure of its future, was described as an information superhighway, the metaverse is a vision. A direction that hopefully will grow into the new world, the future of all mankind.
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How to join the metaverse?
The word future is the key. Mainly because, as of right now, there is no singular metaverse platform for which you can simply sign in and enjoy all the promises of a new tomorrow. But you can explore some of the options of what can possibly make the metaverse happen.
First and foremost, what you’re going to need is an internet connection (obviously) and VR headset. If you’re so keen on believing Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, you can try Horizon Worlds, but for that, you’ll probably want to invest in Quest VR headsets, which are made by his company. But to explore other platforms that consist of the metaverse, any VR headset currently available will be enough. One of them, launched this summer of 2022 is HTC‘s Viverse that aims to be an open source cross-platform metaverse ecosystem.
From here on, it’s really simple – after choosing the platform you want to join, you’ll be asked to create an account and choose your own avatar.
It can look however you always dreamed of, or you can just pick a basic 3D version of your own real-life body. If you do all that, congratulations, you’re in the metaverse (sort of).
From now, you can explore all the possibilities the current metaverse world has to offer. Whether it’s just playing video games in virtual reality in Fortnite or the aforementioned Horizon Worlds, just meeting other people in Second Life or VRChat, or doing whatever is even possible in Roblox, like going to the concert of your favorite artist or buying a digital mansion. Even now, the possibilities are virtually endless.
How to make money in the metaverse?
That’s literally the million-dollar question – how to turn a profit thanks to the metaverse. And as with the “joining the metaverse,” there’s no concrete answer, but there are certain directions one can take.
Zuckerberg’s announcement of the metaverse came right at the height of the popularity of cryptocurrencies, a form of digital currency based on blockchain that can be exchanged for real-life goods.
The idea of owning digital items in the virtual world seems like a perfect opportunity to use NFTs – non-fungible tokens. Another blockchain novelty that can basically work as proof of ownership of digital items like images, videos, or audio files. Although their legal status differs from country to country, the year 2022 showed that they’re not what can be considered a safe investment.
Maybe that will change with time – and time is something we have plenty of, given how there are no definite deadlines for “releasing the metaverse” or “launching the metaverse.” It’s possible that there will never be an official start of the metaverse, and simply one year, we’ll collectively say – yep, this is the metaverse. But until that happens, the metaverse will continue to fuel the dreams and hopes of the technological world. The real one, not the virtual.
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