China Youth Daily: Decoding “Metaverse”

In 2022, many domestic governments will promote the forward-looking layout of the Metaverse industry, and will successively introduce relevant supporting policies. Whether it is the government or commercial organizations, Metaverse is extremely interested in the reconstruction of social models, the construction of simulated scenarios, and the provision of interactive platforms, which will enable industry reform and new economic development, and promote the deep integration of the real economy and virtual economy. At the end of 2021, many domestic and foreign institutions, including the “Chinese Inventory” of the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Center of China, and the authoritative English dictionary “Collins English Dictionary”, will list “Metaverse” as one of the year’s hot words. The Metaverse is regarded as a new generation of “windows” in the Internet technology industry. All walks of life have flocked to the Metaverse platform track, and the Internet virtual reality immersion technology has accelerated its penetration in more scenes . For young people, Metaverse opens a new window for enriching cultural life and expanding social networks, and also provides more opportunities and challenges for youth technological innovation and cultural innovation.

What is the “Metaverse”

The term Metaverse comes from the 1992 novel “Avalanche” by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson.This novel depicts a world in which virtual reality interacts with each other. Through wearable devices, people can enter a virtual space simulated by a computer and parallel to the real world in the form of a virtual avatar . The audio-visual experience of the virtual scene of the Metaverse was also presented in the early movies “The Matrix”, “Ready Player One” and “Avatar”. Zuo Pengfei, an associate researcher at the Institute of Quantitative and Technological Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, once said that the Metaverse is the embodiment of new technologies such as extended reality, blockchain, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Although the conceptual definition of the Metaverse has not yet been unified, the industry has relatively recognized standards for the basic characteristics of the Metaverse, including “immersive experience”, “virtual clone”, “strong social attributes”, as well as a safe and stable economic transaction system, user Diversified content with independent publishing rights and strong data analysis capabilities.

Technological development has further promoted the attention of many fields to the concept of the Metaverse, and 2021 is called “the first year of the Metaverse”. Since March 2021, the American game company Roblox successfully went public under the aura of “the first share of the Metaverse”, and major companies have launched the layout of the Metaverse. Zuckerberg regards the Metaverse as an important part of seeking corporate transformation, exploring new growth points, and reshaping the corporate brand image. At the end of October last year, Facebook officially changed its name to “Meta”, which is the English prefix for “Metaverse”. Following “Meta”, Microsoft plans to introduce its virtual experience platform Mesh into the office software system Microsoft to create an “enterprise version of the Metaverse”. According to Microsoft’s vision, people will be able to choose their own personal image to attend online meetings in “avatar form” without wearing a VR device. Subsequently, domestic Internet companies such as Alibaba, ByteDance, Tencent, and NetEase also followed up and increased the layout of the code yuan universe. The Metaverse has become a flashpoint throughout the industrial Internet, intelligent manufacturing, digitalization and other industries . Brands such as Nike, Burberry, and Coca-Cola have also entered the Metaverse. Among them, consumer brands such as Burberry, Balenciaga, and Louis Vuitton have launched limited edition co-branded dress-up accessories in the form of Metaverse game applications. Siemens, BMW, Adidas, Procter & Gamble and other companies, through the Metaverse, let new employees “watch fireworks, play selfies” across the space, and lead consumers to explore the R&D laboratory. In the eyes of some companies, the sense of immersion and substitution brought by Metaverse provides new opportunities for corporate culture promotion and brand image enhancement.

Not only are the major tech giants vying to deploy the Metaverse track, but the relevant government departments of some countries are also actively participating in it. In May last year, the Korean Ministry of Science, Technology and Information and Communications initiated the establishment of the “Metaverse Alliance”, which includes more than 200 Korean companies and organizations such as Hyundai, SK Group, and LG Group. Provide public virtual services to society in the future . This year, during the local and national two sessions, a number of proposals focused on Metaverse technology and industrial development, including the introduction of the top-level design plan for “Metaverse China” as soon as possible; promoting the research and development of key software and hardware technologies and core components of “Metaverse”, and opening up the Cosmos industry value chain, strengthening the existing industry chain and supplementing the chain; accelerating the development of local Metaverse, specialized, special, and new enterprises.

What the Metaverse Can Bring to Youth

The “digital collection craze” has spawned a new round of cultural consumption boom and has become a new carrier for inheriting the beauty of culture. The emergence of digital collections has realized the assetization and tradability of virtual things in the Metaverse . From the end of 2021 to the present, the issuance and transaction volume of digital collections at home and abroad has surged, showing the characteristics of a wide range, many subjects, and rich themes. Cultural and expo institutions, news media, auction companies, financial institutions, Internet companies, fast-moving consumer goods brands, and artists have all tested digital art collections, covering traditional culture, modern cultural creativity, sports events, news events and other themes, including cultural relics, tide Play, draw, blind box, etc. During the Beijing Winter Olympics, the BingdunDun digital blind box officially authorized by the International Olympic Committee was sold out as soon as it went online. With the “popularity” of traditional culture among young people, as well as the objective factors of epidemic prevention and current restrictions of major cultural and cultural institutions, the upsurge of “online cultural blogs” has been born. Especially around this year’s “5·18 World Museum Day”, domestic cultural and museum institutions such as Dunhuang Academy, Nanyue King Museum, Chinese Character Museum, Gansu Provincial Museum, etc., cooperated with domestic Internet companies, and launched a batch of digital collections of cultural relics. Sold out immediately. Recently, the digital collections developed by domestic cultural and museum institutions, based on the appearance of the cultural relics in the collection, carry out either antique or innovative designs, and use 3D modeling, animation special effects, rendering dynamic interpretation and other means to give the collection a more vivid image. It better fits the aesthetic taste and consumption ability of young people, is loved by young netizens, and becomes a new path for the dissemination of museum culture.

In the field of pan-entertainment, Metaverse’s immersive experience and creation system provides young audiences with a richer and more delicate cultural experience . From the perspective of practitioners in the Internet technology industry, games are the most concentrated area of ​​”landing” in the current Metaverse. Before the beginning of the Metaverse craze, popular games such as “Minecraft”, “Animal Crossing” and “The Sims” all over the world already involved the concept of the Metaverse. Since the end of last year, domestic and foreign Internet companies and game studios such as Meta, Baidu and Haegin have also launched a number of “Metaverse games”. The interaction between them is more free, and the customization and plasticity functions are also more powerful.Metaverse games construct a virtual space closely connected to the real world.

In 2020, graduates of Communication University of China held a cloud graduation ceremony in the game “Minecraft”, making up for the regret of being unable to attend the campus graduation ceremony due to the new crown pneumonia epidemic. Some games based on blockchain and NFT technology obtain income by transferring, exchanging, selling, and trading digital assets in the game, which stimulates players’ creative desire. For example, the sandbox virtual game “The Sandbox” based on the Ethereum blockchain, creators can create 3D pixelated assets and sell them in the form of NFTs. For players, their carefully created “sandbox world” is a kind of artwork of the virtual world. In the fields of film and television, animation, music, etc., with the blessing of Metaverse technology, the audience’s sense of immersion and experience has been greatly enhanced, and the grasp and perception of the emotional expression of literary and artistic film and television works is also more delicate and accurate. Some people imagine that in the future, through the Metaverse technology, the audience can directly participate in the construction of film and television stories . This is undoubtedly a reshaping force for the cultural industry.

Since the beginning of this year, a number of social apps issued by some domestic and foreign Internet companies have all aimed at the “Youth Metaverse” track. These social apps have launched custom image functions such as “pinch face” and “dress up”, giving virtual characters more diverse, real, and distinctive personalities. Users can make notes, show their hobbies, follow content, etc. The platform will also recommend more matching content based on user portraits, and recommend friends with similar hobbies to them. Young people have both strong social needs and curiosity to explore the world. Metaverse is more suitable for young people’s communication methods, especially in the context of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, which satisfies young people’s desire for “close communication” to a certain extent. The social needs of “face-to-face communication”.

What will the “Youth Metaverse” look like?

The virtual-reality social function carried by the Metaverse is in line with the needs of young people born in 1995 who are eager to socialize and form interest groups through “online + offline”. The new generation of young people like to express themselves, have a strong desire to create, pay attention to cultural consumption, and have higher requirements for the originality, interest and diversity of cultural products. These characteristics also provide a promising development environment for the Metaverse.

Under the premise of meeting regulatory compliance requirements in the fields of Internet finance, copyright protection, digital space storage security, etc., for young people and the youth Metaverse of the post-95s generation, the three directions of “social attributes”, “creative desires” and “cultural needs” can be found. exert force . For example, it can promote the implementation of multiple scenarios such as “Metaverse Museum”, “Metaverse Lecture Hall”, “Metaverse Concert” and “Metaverse Recruitment Fair” to meet the needs of young people in terms of employment, marriage, and study. For another example, digital art collections with more diverse contents and forms can be developed together with well-known young artists and designers. Let more young creators create original designs on the platform, or re-create the materials on the premise of authorizing IP on the platform, provide young people with new channels for innovation, creation, and efficiency, and stimulate more young people’s creative enthusiasm . Through online audio-visual, database publishing, and online live broadcast, cultural resources such as art galleries, libraries, and museums can appear in a young and novel form, expanding the boundaries of industrialization.

At present, in the development of some digital collections, there are also problems such as homogenization of design, lack of originality, and vague audience positioning. It is possible to deepen and expand the cooperation network with different subjects such as cultural and museum units, art schools, and Internet companies; around different themes , to achieve long-term supply and development of high-quality content and high-quality collections, and tap the cultural connotation of digital collections; through personalized customization of exhibition content and exhibition line layout, to achieve from a single “cloud exhibit” to a better reflect personal aesthetic taste, cultural taste The “Cloud Special Exhibition” and “Special Exhibition” have been deepened to create an online spiritual home for young people.

What are the difficulties and challenges facing the Metaverse as it moves towards reality?

The Metaverse has spawned new forms of social relations and brought new challenges to social governance. The Metaverse pushes the boundaries of virtual reality. According to data, since the Metaverse game launched by Meta was launched at the end of last year, there have been many incidents of “online sexual assault”. The virtual world constructed by the Metaverse is not only a reflection of the real world, but also detached from the real world . With the continuous deepening of the extension and connotation of the virtual space, how to define and deal with the illegal behavior in the virtual world is a practical problem to be faced.

Second, at present, the foundations of the Metaverse, such as blockchain, quantum computing, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc., are still in their early stages of development. However, since last year, there has been a lot of “hype” and “concept creation” for the layout of the Metaverse. Some applications that focus on the concept of Metaverse social games, the game interface, interactive social interaction, custom development and other functions are still unstable, so they are “hurriedly launched”. Some apps under the social banner of Metaverse have been caught in the controversy of violating user privacy and suspected plagiarism of virtual dress. There is also software that provides value-added services under the banner of “Metaverse” and is suspected of false propaganda and marketing. After the popularity of “everything is possible in the Metaverse”, a consensus is being formed on the thinking of “returning to rationality” and “squeezing out the bubble” in the Metaverse.

The compliance development of Metaverse application products, user data and privacy protection, and NFT transaction supervision at home and abroad are showing a trend of gradual improvement . At present, there are signs of speculative premium and financialization in NFTs and digital collections, which have been highly valued by regulatory authorities. In October 2021, the National Copyright Exchange Center Alliance, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou Internet Notary Office of Zhejiang Province and other Internet giants such as Ant Group jointly issued the “Digital Cultural and Creative Industry Self-discipline Convention” to resolutely resist the maliciousness of digital cultural and creative products. Hype behavior.

In addition, the “on-chain” types of domestic digital collections are mainly consortium chains and private chains. With the differentiation of the industry and the concentration of heads, once the platforms operated by small and medium-sized enterprises are shut down, the digital collections on the “chain” face the risk of loss. In April this year, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage proposed at a symposium on the situation of digital collections that “cultural and cultural institutions should not directly sell the original data of cultural relics as limited commodities.” With the frequent occurrence of incidents such as “NFT theft” and “second-hand transactions being deceived”, some young people lack a full understanding of the artistry of digital collections, the qualifications and security of trading platforms, and are rushing to enter the market under the temptation of “second-hand riches”. , blindly follow the venture investment “quilt”.In addition to the collection of cultural relics and the works of well-known artists, how to protect the original achievements of “grassroots creators” is also a new topic that will soon be faced.

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