Metaverse: Science-Fiction, or Reality 2.0 (not the game)?

The tech world is abuzz since Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would become more than just a social media company building a set of connected social apps, to building a set of interconnected virtual experiences and becoming a Metaverse company. What is the Metaverse? Isn’t it a sci-fi concept from the gaming world? How is it relevant to us? What impact will it have on the future of work?

What is Metaverse?

A term coined by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash, Metaverse refers to a universe where physical, augmented and virtual reality will converge in an online space.

A successor to the modern internet, elements of Metaverse are already present in the gaming world : multiplayer games, and a certain level of interoperability between popular video games like Roblox and Fortnite.

How have Metaverse experiences started entering our universe?

During the pandemic, with long lockdown and restrictions to outdoor activities across the world, Generation MZ has already started living in this new virtual world through video games, and other experiences like Korean app Zepeto’s Gucci Villa, or the immensely successful concert by Travis Scott on Fortnite, in which more than 12 million people danced and flew around the game world with the popular hip hop artist.

Metavserse isn’t restricted to gaming and entertainment. We see traces of this new virtual reality even in education. COVID-19 led educational institutions to look for alternate solutions during the lockdowns, and there are several examples of schools using video games to enable students to explore different parts of the world virtually. Soonchunhyan University in Korea, even organised a Metaverse matriculation ceremony, in which freshmen students attended the ceremony using a VR headbox.

How is Metaverse going to define Reality 2.0?

My 15 year old nephew has spent a large part of the year in virtual classrooms, with almost zero human interaction, apart from his parents and younger brother. He spends most of his time online, engaged in video games and virtual experiences. For him, Metaverse is not sci-fiction. Metaverse pretty much defines the world his generation lives in. It is, in fact, reality. Reality 2.0.

The identities of Generation MZ is based on their virtual avatars, their sense of culture and even fashion is dictated by their virtual reality, and their relationships are built during multiplayer games in their virtual world.

Video games like Roblox allow users to live in their own sandbox worlds, with their own avatars, activities and even a music genre unique to this world! Users can earn Robux, a virtual currency that can be used to buy digital assets in the virtual world, which can also be exchanged for real world currency, allowing these young users to earn money through their virtual lives…so what happens when Metaverse interoperability allows users to start using Robux across platforms, to purchase almost everything in the digital world?

Cryptocurrencies and NFT have already opened the doors to a crazy new world of decentralized finance and acquisition of digital assets. With the progress made by 5G and Blockchain technologies, will generation Z be working and earning only in this decentralized digital world?

What does this mean for the future of education, and more specifically the future of work?

While my nephew and his friends still have a few years to figure out what path they will choose and how their careers will shape, those who are getting ready to enter the job market don’t have that luxury.

With each new innovation made in the world of technology, the need for adaptability grows 10x. Being ready for Reality 2.0 requires a high degree of learning agility and creativity.

From virtual meetings powered by augmented reality, to a whole new virtual world, like the one envisioned by Mark Zuckerberg, the learning curve is steep.

In the next few articles I will explore how Metaverse is going to change the way we learn, work, and perceive reality.

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G Shrivastava

G Shrivastava

Educator, Entrepreneur, Blogger, Bibliophile, Francophile. Je pense, donc je suis.