What is the metaverse?
When people talk about the metaverse, they’re referring to an overarching metaverse that doesn’t exist. Today, we have many different metaverses, and speculation suggests that we might someday have one metaverse, the same way we have one internet.
But the metaverse is a shift in the way people engage with technology, a digital world where people interact as avatars. Users engage in this virtual landscape using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology, game consoles, personal computers, and smartphones.
Futurists like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are proponents of the idea that the metaverse could be a 3D virtual place that blends digital and physical worlds. People soon might exist in digital neighborhoods, workspaces, and social spaces that mimic real ones.
Metaverse skeptics like Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick say gaming companies are already in the business of building these digital locations. Zelnick disagrees with futurists who think people want to live more of their daily lives in virtual spaces; he seems to believe the public doesn’t want a metaverse, as Zuckerberg describes.
Let’s explore some of the features that define a metaverse.
Unlike physical spaces, the metaverse is big enough to support many people who want to have an experience together. The metaverse is more accessible, in theory, than real-life spaces because anyone with an Internet connection can create an avatar and enter it.
However, the current rush to market among tech giants signals accessibility might not be top of mind. Individuals with blindness, deafness, or motor impairment will need accommodations because their conditions are incompatible with some metaverse technologies. People with sensory process disorders or anxiety might also have trouble spending time in these digital spaces.
The hope is companies competing to create the metaverse consider accessibility, benefiting all potential users. In the physical world, this is like the universality of creating an inclined ramp for wheelchair users, which helps people with strollers or rolling luggage.
Developments in VR headsets, AR glasses, and smartphone technology will stimulate all five senses and immerse people in a highly realistic, virtual experience, interacting with the environment and manipulating objects inside the metaverse.
For now, most metaverse experiences resemble a typical video game, which we look more closely at below.
We’re also seeing an emergence of decentralized, blockchain-based metaverses. As is characteristic of cryptocurrencies, the metaverse is designed to be community run, with elements like voting on future developments as part of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).
How does the metaverse work?
There have been metaverse-like experiences since the early 2000s in games like Second Life and The Sims. In these games, users create avatars, build homes, participate in a digital economy, and socialize. Users accessed these digital worlds via their PCs; these experiences were self-contained and had little impact offline. The current idea of a metaverse would be a continuous experience where online and offline lives become integrated.
Cryptocurrencies are important because they’re easily and securely exchangeable between users and across metaverses because they’re decentralized. People with virtual money in metaverses can influence what’s possible in the digital world. Users who own crypto tokens in the metaverse can participate in its DAO and are empowered to vote on local governance, ensuring that a metaverse’s rules serve the community’s interests.
In the metaverse Sensorium Galaxy, for example, users can exchange real world money for SENSO tokens. SENSO is worth $10 per unit. Users can also trade SENSO via crypto exchanges. Users who own SENSO tokens have perks like participating in the local DAO. voting on future developments as part of a DAO inside the Sensorium Galaxy.
While a singular metaverse doesn’t exist yet, the ones that do feature similar qualities:
- Accessed via technology
- Digital worlds where users exist as customized avatars
- Varying degrees of decentralized marketplaces
- Users can socialize, collaborate, buy and sell from each other
- Ability to interact with elements in these virtual spaces
How can creators use the metaverse?
The term creator usually refers to “influencers” or content creators on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok. The metaverse offers more opportunities for creative professionals to earn a living. Creators can produce digital assets like virtual art, avatar clothing, or even digital homes and then earn a profit selling them to other people within the metaverse. Novice and experienced users alike can learn how to create objects and other materials to build this virtual world and find ways to make a profit.