The idea of a metaverse, a fully immersive and interactive virtual world, has captured the imagination of many people. With the advancement of Web3 technologies, the concept is moving closer to reality. However, while the metaverse has its proponents who tout its potential for new forms of value, identity, and culture, it also has its skeptics who question its feasibility, usefulness, and ethical implications.
We will explore both sides of the argument, discussing what the metaverse is, its potential benefits and risks, and some case studies of companies and organizations that are experimenting with it.
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Metaverse: What Is It?
The metaverse is a term that has been used to describe a hypothetical future network where people can interact in a fully immersive virtual world. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which is typically a single, isolated experience, the metaverse is a connected, shared, and persistent virtual space that can be accessed by millions of users simultaneously.
The idea of the metaverse has been around since the early 1990s, when it was first introduced in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel “Snow Crash.” Since then, the concept has been popularized in other works of science fiction, such as “Ready Player One” (Ernest Cline).
While the metaverse is often associated with gaming and entertainment, it has much broader implications for the future of the web and society as a whole. Some people think that it has the potential to revolutionize how we work, learn, socialize, and even govern ourselves, while others are more skeptical, questioning its feasibility, usefulness, and ethical implications.
How Web3 is Making the Metaverse Possible
While the concept of the metaverse has been around for decades, it’s only recently that it has become a tangible possibility thanks to the development of web3 technologies. Web3 is a next-generation internet architecture that aims to create a more open, secure, and decentralized web by leveraging blockchain technology.
The main innovation of web3 is that it enables the creation of decentralized, peer-to-peer networks, built on blockchains. It can facilitate the creation and sharing of digital assets, such as virtual real estate, virtual goods, and even virtual currencies. This makes it possible to create a decentralized economy within the metaverse, where users can buy, sell, and trade digital assets with each other.
Moreover, web3 technologies like blockchain also enable the creation of unique digital identities and verifiable credentials, which can be used to establish trust and reputation within the metaverse. This is essential for creating a secure and reliable virtual economy, as well as for protecting users’ privacy and security.
The metaverse represents a new frontier of human experience, where the boundaries between physical and digital, real and imaginary, blur and blend. While the metaverse is still in its early stages of development, the potential applications and implications are vast and far-reaching.
How to build a Metaverse?
Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to build a virtual world for the metaverse:
- Choose the right platform
There are various platforms that you can choose from, depending on your needs and goals. If you’re looking to build on an existing virtual world platform, some popular options include Second Life, VRChat, and Minecraft. On the other hand, if you want to build a new virtual world on the blockchain, you can take inspiration from platforms like Decentraland or The Sandbox.
- Plan your virtual world
Before you start building your virtual world, it’s important to plan out the layout, theme, and interactive elements. To do this, you can use tools like Trello to create a project plan and a list of tasks. You can also use 3D modeling software like Blender or SketchUp to create concept art and visualize your ideas.
- Design the visual style and atmosphere
Designing the visual style and atmosphere of your virtual world is crucial in creating an immersive experience. You can use software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP to create textures and graphics, and 3D modeling software like Blender, Rhinoceros or Maya to create 3D models of your world. You can also use Unity, a popular game development engine, to create the interactive elements and program the behavior of objects in your world.
- Create interactive elements
- Build the virtual world
- Test and get feedback
Testing your virtual world is crucial to ensure that everything works as intended. You can use beta testers to get feedback on the user experience and identify any bugs or issues that need to be addressed. To gather feedback, you can use tools like Google Forms to create surveys and questionnaires.
- Publish and promote
Once you’ve built and tested your virtual world, it’s time to publish it and make it available to the public. You can use platforms like Twitch or Discord to stream your virtual world, and you can promote it using social media and other channels to attract users, building a community around your world by engaging with users, hosting events, and offering rewards for participation.
- Upload your virtual world on a blockchain
To upload your virtual world onto Ethereum, for example, you’ll need to use a specialized tool called the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The EVM is a runtime environment that enables you to create and execute smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. To upload your virtual world onto the blockchain, you’ll need to create a smart contract that defines the rules and logic of your world.
First, you’ll need to create a wallet on Ethereum. This wallet will allow you to store and manage the cryptocurrency that you’ll need to pay for the transaction fees associated with uploading your smart contract. Once you have your wallet, you can use a tool like Remix to create your smart contract. Remix is an online IDE that allows you to write, test, and deploy smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
To create your smart contract, you’ll need to define the rules and logic of your virtual world. This can include things like the layout and design of the world, the behavior of objects and characters, and the rules for interaction between users. Once you’ve created your smart contract, you’ll need to compile it and deploy it onto the blockchain.
To deploy your smart contract, you’ll need to pay a transaction fee in cryptocurrency, called gas. The amount of gas you’ll need will depend on the complexity of your smart contract and the current market conditions on the blockchain. Once you’ve paid the gas fee, your smart contract will be added to the blockchain and your virtual world will be available to users.
- Interact with your virtual world
Once your virtual world is uploaded onto the blockchain, users can interact with it using a web3-compatible browser like MetaMask. Web3 is a new technology that enables users to interact with decentralized applications like virtual worlds directly from their web browser. To interact with your virtual world on Ethereum, users will need to connect their wallet on the website. Once they’re inside your virtual world, they can interact with objects, characters, and other users using the rules and logic defined in your smart contract.
Pros and Cons of the Metaverse
As with any new technology or social phenomenon, there are both potential benefits and drawbacks to the metaverse. We will explore some of the most significant pros and cons of the metaverse.
- New Business Opportunities
The metaverse presents a vast range of new decentralized business opportunities, from virtual real estate development and digital asset creation to game development and immersive experiences. For entrepreneurs and creators, the metaverse offers a new frontier of possibilities for monetization and innovation.
- Virtual Collaboration and Remote Work
The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize how we work and collaborate. Virtual offices and meeting spaces can eliminate the need for physical offices and commuting, while virtual collaboration tools can facilitate remote work and allow teams to work together from anywhere in the world.
- New Forms of Socialization
The metaverse is also a new frontier for socialization and community building. Virtual worlds provide a space for people to meet and connect with others who share similar interests, regardless of their physical location. This can foster new relationships and social networks that would not be possible in the physical world.
- Social Isolation and Addiction
One of the potential drawbacks of the metaverse is the risk of social isolation and addiction. Spending too much a lot of time in virtual worlds can lead to a lack of connection with the physical world and with real-life social networks. There is also a risk of addiction to virtual experiences, which can lead to neglect of responsibilities and negative impacts on mental health.
- Digital Divide and Inequality
The metaverse has the potential to create a new digital divide and exacerbate existing inequalities. Access to the technology and resources needed to participate in the metaverse may be limited to those with the financial means to do so, creating a new class divide between those who can afford to participate and those who cannot.
- Ethical and Social Implications
The metaverse raises a range of ethical and social questions, from issues of privacy and data ownership to the impact on real-world economies and cultures. The creation of a virtual economy and the exchange of digital assets raise questions about regulation, taxation, and the distribution of wealth.
Five Case Studies in the Metaverse
Decentraland is a virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to buy and sell virtual land and assets, as well as create and explore immersive experiences. Decentraland is entirely user-owned and operated, meaning that users have complete control over the content and experiences within the world.
Users can buy and sell virtual land as NFT, meaning that each plot of land has an unique identifier and value. This allows users to truly own their virtual land and benefit from any increases in value that occur over time.
Another interesting aspect of Decentraland is its governance model. Decentraland is run by a the Decentraland DAO, which means that decisions about the future development are made by a community of stakeholders, rather than a centralized authority. ensuring that the interests of the community are represented in the development of the platform.
Somnium Space is a virtual reality metaverse that combines blockchain technology with virtual reality to create a decentralized platform for users to explore, socialize, and transact. Users can buy and sell virtual land and assets, participate in events and activities, and create their own immersive experiences.
One of the unique features of Somnium Space is its use of virtual reality technology. This allows users to experience the metaverse in a more immersive and realistic way than other virtual worlds. Users can explore Somnium Space using virtual reality headsets, which creates a more immersive and engaging experience.
Somnium Space also uses a token economy to incentivize participation in the platform. Users can earn Somnium $CUBE, the native currency of the platform, by participating in activities and creating content. Somnium Cubes can be used to buy and sell virtual assets, as well as to participate in the governance of the platform.
The Sandbox is a decentralized virtual gaming platform that allows users to create, share, and monetize their own gaming experiences. The Sandbox uses blockchain technology to allow users to own and trade virtual assets, including land, game items, and characters.
The Sandbox focuses on user-generated content: They can create their own gaming experiences using the platform’s drag-and-drop game maker, which requires no coding skills.
The Sandbox also uses a token economy to incentivize participation in the platform. Users can earn $SAND, the native cryptocurrency of the platform, by participating in activities and creating content. $SAND can be used to buy and sell virtual assets, as well as to participate in the governance of the platform.
Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game that allows users to breed, collect, and battle digital creatures called Axies. Axies are unique and collectible NFTs, and can be bought, sold, and traded on various marketplaces. One of the unique features of Axie Infinity is its play-to-earn model. Users can earn the platform’s native cryptocurrency, $AXS, by playing the game and winning battles. This has created a new avenue for earning income in the web3 space, and has attracted a large and dedicated community of players.
Axie Infinity also has a strong focus on community, with regular events and meetups both online and offline. This has helped to build a dedicated and passionate user base, and has contributed to the success of the platform.
Fortnite is a hugely popular online game that has amassed a massive following since its release in 2017. It is widely recognized for its emphasis on community and social interaction, as well as its ability to evolve and adapt over time with new content and collaborations with popular franchises like Marvel and Star Wars.
While Fortnite is not a blockchain-based platform or a metaverse in the traditional sense, it has shown a willingness to explore integrating blockchain technology. In 2019, Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, acquired a blockchain game development company called SuperData. Though not much has been revealed about Epic Games’ plans for blockchain technology, this acquisition shows that the company recognizes the potential of this emerging technology.
Fortnite’s success is a testament to the potential of immersive virtual environments to engage and entertain millions of users. Its combination of community-focused gameplay and regular updates has helped build a devoted player base that keeps coming back for more. Additionally, Fortnite’s collaborations with major franchises have helped it to stay fresh and relevant, attracting new players to the platform.
Overall, while Fortnite may not be a traditional metaverse or blockchain-based platform, its success in the virtual world space cannot be denied. Its willingness to explore new technologies like blockchain highlights the potential for even more innovation in the future.