The Metaverse: What are We Waiting For?
by Doe Kangas
Chief Communications Officer, Go MetaRail
This week, I was reading an article from BBC News discussing the likelihood of whether or not the Metaverse would become the new workplace in future. A decent read, thanks to Tech Writer Jane Wakefield’s fairly balanced writeup.
Reading through the reply threads on LinkedIn, I started wondering about the hesitancy with which so many are approaching the concept of the Metaverse. Sure, there’s debate in some circles about precisely how to define “the metaverse”, and there is no shortage of memes an gifs poking fun at the very idea of our lives being lived solely through a VR headset to the detriment of humanity.
As amusing as all of this is, and we here at Go MetaRail are just as willing as anyone to laugh along with those who envision a future in which “resistance is futile” and we are subsequently plugged into the Borg, I feel the vast majority of people are rather missing the point, not to mention the opportunity, that the metaverse presents.
Broadly defined, “the metaverse” refers to a virtual space where users can interact with each other and digital objects in a shared environment. According to Wakefield’s article, “The metaverse has become an over-hyped term, so it’s important to note that it doesn’t actually yet exist.”
With all due respect, I would have to disagree. Is the term “metaverse” over-hyped? Sure. But does it yet exist?
Yes, the metaverse exists. Already. An admittedly nascent, but very much living and breathing metaverse is already here.
Does it resemble “The Oasis” described in Ready Player One? No. Nor should it have to. Need we remind ourselves that RP-1 — excellent book that it is and thank you Ernest Cline — is a work of fiction, not a book of prophecy?
Fiction is a beautiful thing. Where else can you dream up a plot, spackle over reality gaps with nonsense and technobabble, and allow your story to live and breathe in the minds of others? But fiction is only momentarily believable because it is untethered from the obvious constraints of reality.
Frankly, I loved Ready Player One. But do I, one who could never get past level 3 in Pac-Man, really want to don a full body haptic suit and embark on a treasure hunt while my real-world life is being threatened by the forces of evil? No, not really. Actually, not at all.
And when it comes to creating “the Metaverse”, we are very much tethered to the real facts that we can’t simply dream it into existence. It is likely going to look much different from Cline’s “Oasis” vision. It is going to call for real work. It will take time, not to mention a bucketload of money.
So how about if we separate the Metaverse as a reality from works of fiction, shall we? Yes, it is still under construction. Plans are being hashed out. A good deal of emerging technology is also, at present, purely conceptual. What will this space look like in, say, a decade? None of us knows for certain.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot already make use of the metaverse as it stands.
Right now, there are hundreds of events and thousands of games available in the metaverse. Some are brilliant, some less so. A few require VR headsets, but the vast majority do not. Most require a user to be crypto-literate, but quite a few have no crypto requirement, and may be played or participated in for free. There are 2D projects, 3D projects, low and high pixel counts, swords, dice, flowers, trolls, aliens, spaceships, farms, pixie dust, mountains, charity projects, health and wellness events and destinations, concerts, sporting events, and sites designed just for socialisation.
We don’t need to wait for it to be “completed”— The Metaverse is already here. As early as this iteration is, there is no denying that it EXISTS. Let’s call this Metaverse 1.0, and allow the technology to evolve as it is bound to do.
The question is, what are you all waiting for?