What exactly is this “Metaverse” everyone seems to be talking about? Is it just that, a ‘thing’ people like to think they’re in the know about, perhaps the next big thing on the internet, a virtual reality video game, or just a crazy marketing idea thought up by a very wealthy social media owner wanting to try and halt the decline in the use of his data-mining Facebook? He’s calling his Facebook group “Meta”, a name people are not necessarily going to adopt any time soon.
“Metaverse” has become the top, the hip word being used by those discussing things internet. It’s meant to sum up those things we all like doing either on the internet or in our actual lives, but making it feel like we are all together digitally with our families and friends, whether to shop, work, play or simply get together.
Believe it or not, the term metaverse has been around for a few decades already, and many of us have been using it, possibly without realizing it. Playing collaborative video games as a member of a platoon of soldiers made up of other internet-connected players or playing a few rounds of live poker on the internet in online casino games means you are already immersed in the metaverse.
So, as we have already asked, what precisely is this metaverse? We know about the metaverse but don’t really know anything about how it works or what it does, or for that matter, can do for us all. We seem to have gone back 30 years to when we were all asking, ‘what is this internet thing?’ Will the metaverse also not be quite as we all think it might be?
However, the internet giants are all piling in there, lock, stock, and many smoking barrels. The Facebook group, now Meta as we have mentioned, Google, Apple, supermarkets, casinos, the online shopping giants, and many more are now joining into this virtual, as the experts suggest, ‘new 3D world internet model’ putting their money where their mouths are.
So, to break it down to basics, it’s becoming a highly interactive place that is resident in our computers (and mobile phones/tablets, as they are themselves computers), very much mirroring our everyday ‘real’ world where we will all spend, interact, and share our ‘digital lives’ together.
It’s attempting to take us one step further to allow us to do everything we need to do in the real world, but in a digital form – shopping, visiting foreign countries (but fortunately/unfortunately bypassing the added costs of seat reservations, luggage, meals, and duty-free sales!) buying cars, visiting the horse races, fashion, investing in real estate and visiting the casino.
However, to really experience and ‘get yourself into’ the metaverse, experts suggest the use of virtual reality headsets, so you can ‘feel and touch’ it. That is, you can put your hand out and ‘place’ those chips on the roulette table, or ‘press’ the hold button on the poker slots. But don’t panic! Unlike those with their heads jammed in their mobile devices whom we assiduously try to avoid on the pavement, we won’t need to walk around wearing a VR headset. It is not an absolute must, as we are already accessing virtual 3D worlds via our smartphones and tablets, and these will remain the primary access route for many years to come.
Fixation or not, it’s still early days yet, and one thing that has yet to be sorted is portability – taking something from one platform in the metaverse to interact with another platform. Time will be the mover and shaker for this.