The more we try to understand the Metaverse, the more it seems harder to be. Since the Big Tech companies won’t stop talking about it, there’s an emerging lexicon about the next iteration of the contemporary Internet.
As such, we at TechsnGames compiled a list of trends that the metaverse-curious leader must know right now.
Metaverse – Seriously, what Does It Mean?
To help you realize how complex the term “metaverse” can be, replace “metaverse” with “cyberspace”. 90% of the time, the meaning won’t change that much. That’s because the term applies in a broad idea on how people interact with technology. And it’s also possible that someday in the near future, the term itself will become just as antiquated as the specific tech it used to describe.
If you’re still struggling, just think of this: if today’s internet is only 2D – meaning that you can only browse and scroll through a screen, the metaverse will be the 3D counterpart. You’ll’ be entering it using headsets and reality glasses.
It’s unclear whether there will be multiple metaverses or a supreme, unified one. But one thing’s for sure: It will be an immersive ride and the next version of the contemporary internet, involving the use of augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) tech.
According to Matthew Ball, the metaverse is a platform for human interaction and existence and will someday replace the mobile internet.
Metaverse – Meeting Your Digital Twin
Here are some of the metaverse-related trends that you need to know right now.
Avatar – Your virtual version inside the metaverse. It can either look like you, or something “fancier” depending on your customizations, so to speak.
Skeuomorphic Design – This wonky term means that virtual objects will be rendered as close to real-life as possible. The metaverse could resemble the physical world, tethered to laws of physics, but doesn’t have to be 100% identical.
Digital Twin – Introduced during the 1990s, the term is basically a virtual representation of a real-life object or structure. This technology was first used by NASA to simulate its space capsules. Microsoft emphasized that digital twin tech is vital for developing the metaverse.
Mirrorworld – Mirrorworlds are often found in sci-fi flicks like The Matrix. They can either reflect the physical world or something like in a video game scenario, like Fortnite.
Metaverse – Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), And Everything In-Between
Augmented Reality (AR) – It’s more like a digital overlay of our physical world. Just think of Pokémon Go, or wearables like the Google Glasses. While the latter never took off, we could someday be using AR-connected glasses like Snapchat’s Spectacles or Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories.
Virtual Reality (VR) – It’s more of an immersive experience whenever you’ll put on your headset and see the digital world. Unlike AR, VR required headsets, creating a 360-degree virtual world in which they can move around.
Mixed Reality (MR) – It incorporates both elements of AR and VR. For example, a person can interact with the dancing Snapchat hot dog without it falling from the edges.
Extended Reality (XR) – If all the concepts and elements of VR, AR, and MR overlap, then this is where XR comes in. If ever the lines between AR, VR, and MR become a reality, XR would be a more appropriate term.
Exploring Many Metaverses
Neal Stephenson – the person behind the term ‘Metaverse’. In his novel Snow Crash, the metaverse is a persistent virtual world navigated by Hiro Protagonist – seriously, the main protagonist.
Horizon & Oculus Workrooms – In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2.3B. While it’s been a leading VR force for years, Oculus might be the portal for people trying to get a glimpse of Meta’s metaverse project. Facebook has already introduced Horizon Workrooms – a VR version of Zoom, but you’ll have legless avatars.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) – Many think that MMORPGs will be the basis of the metaverse. Millions of people interact within shared spaces, hosting workrooms virtual shops, and even concerts. Some examples include Fortnite and Roblox.
Second Life – It’s an online VR world way back in 2003, providing an early example of social experience within the metaverse. Many believe that the metaverse will be the VR version of it.
Nonfungible Tokens (NFTs) – Blockchain-based proof of authentication for digital objects, allowing you to own goods within the metaverse.
The Metaverse & The Future Of Video Games
Ever since the matter about the metaverse has reached an all-time high (yet again), the Big Tech companies have announced that they’ll be creating their own metaverses. No one knows whether these metaverses will be independent or shared. Only time will tell. Anyway, here’s what we know about their progress so far.
Nvidia – The well-known semiconductor company has announced a major expansion of their Omniverse. It will resemble a “parallel-world”, where devs and everyday people can experience a virtual environment as close as possible to the real world. It could revolutionize the future of gaming for years to come!
Epic Games – Thanks to Fortnite, Epic Games has gained some edge over its competitors. The company behind the well-known Unreal Engine, Epic Games announced a $1B to make its metaverse dream a reality.
Unity Software – When it comes to providing software solutions for animations and video games, there’s Unity. With its acquisition of Weta, Unity is now capable of entering the Metaverse race as well.
Upon reading Stephenson’s novel, I found it very exciting, but also full of possibilities for both virtual and real-life harms, ranging from addiction, criminality, and the collapse of democratic institutions. Interestingly, the metaverse was mostly owned by big tech companies as well, with governments more relegated to being largely more than just puppets.
Given the current tensions between private big tech companies and governments around privacy, freedom of speech, and other harms, we should really be careful about the kind of metaverse we’re gonna create, and who gets to regulate it.