Alright, What is the Metaverse? And Why?

In his 2011 science fiction novel Ready Player One, Ernest Cline imagined a world where people could escape the troubles of the real world by entering a virtual reality (VR) space known as OASIS where they could play video games, meet and socialize with new friends, and go on adventures. Like many good pieces of sci-fi, Ready Player One has proven to have something of a prophetic edge, and we didn’t need to wait long for Cline’s prognostications to come into the real world. In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook (the company behind the social media platform of the same name, Instagram, and owners of virtual reality company Oculus) was rebranding to Meta and its stock ticker was changing to MVRS. Immediately, this sparked interest in the overarching project — the metaverse — and a few key questions: what is the metaverse? Why is it being developed and who benefits from it?

What is the Metaverse?

To understand the metaverse in the modern context, we must first look back to its origin. The word “metaverse” is attributed to another piece of science fiction literature: Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyberpunk novel Snow Crash. Stephenson was contemplating what the next evolution of the internet may look like: concluding that it would involve virtual reality: people using avatars in a setting resembling a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). If you’re familiar with the setup of Ready Player One, this probably sounds very familiar — in an interview with Amazon, Cline cited Stephenson as an influence for his book, which came out nearly 20 years after its predecessor. What is particularly impressive is the fact that Stephenson made this prediction before the World Wide Web even became publicly accessible in 1993. 

While the definition of what constitutes a metaverse is somewhat variable, they are usually described as an immersive, persistent, interactive digital environment, often mimicking the real world to some extent.

In layman’s terms, it describes an internet that can be accessed, browsed, and used not through a laptop, desktop, or smartphone, but via VR and augmented reality (AR) in a 3D experience. Instead of reading a social media post, a metaverse would allow you — through an avatar — to “meet” with a friend’s avatar to talk directly to each other. As a persistent environment, the metaverse is continually “turned on” so, like an MMO, you can log out, but the virtual world will continue to move. 

Within the metaverse, NFTs and Web3 will have a central role. The use of an NFT marketplace will act as a virtual marketplace; the NFTs you collect become a virtual art gallery. NFTs can also be used to create virtual homes and digital land: Decentraland is the go-to example of this.

Understanding the “Why” Behind the Metaverse? 

So, now that we know what a metaverse is, one of the most common follow-up questions is, understandably, why? Why bother with any of this? To answer this, we need to look both at what the internet is currently capable of and what its shortcomings are. 

We’ve seen how the internet connects people. At the time of this writing, there is an estimated 5 billion internet users worldwide: over 4.6 billion of whom are active on social media. People are using the internet every day to stream movies, watch live sports, and interact with each other. But as much as we use the internet, it cannot make us feel like we’re truly part of the experience of being at a live event. 

As giants of Italian football, AC Milan recently experimented with creating a virtual broadcast through the metaverse for their league game against Fiorentina for fans in the Middle East and North Africa. In the gaming space, metaverses are also hosting projects like Horizon Worlds, through which users can meet, socialize, and build their own worlds using little more than a VR headset. Horizon Worlds is also a space where companies can attend meetings and sports fans and concertgoers can watch their favorite teams or groups in action. 

Who Benefits From the Metaverse?

In this Forbes article (featuring SIMBA Chain!), Josh Wilson discusses how NFTs are gaining global recognition in cinema and sports. Doing so not only benefits organizations, but also their fans, who get to own a unique piece of merchandise from a team they love or have a say in what happens next on a show they love. NFTs and these use cases are great for how they can be used in the metaverse. The SIMBA Chain team has worked with sporting organizations globally respected brands to help them develop their NFT collections to use in the emerging metaverses. We’re excited to see how the technology will continue to grow, but we’re even more excited to help your organization reserve its place in the metaverse. ‘

Want to know more? Contact the SIMBA Chain today!