Editor’s note: When Stephenson first mentioned the idea of ”meta universe” in “Avalanche” 30 years ago, he must have never imagined that this concept is so popular now. But what is the meta universe? What can the meta-universe achieve? Just like “There are a thousand Hamlets in the eyes of a thousand people”, everyone’s opinions are different. This article can help us clarify various “meta universe” concepts. The article comes from the compilation, the length of the article, we published it in two parts, this is the first part.
Image credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images
The meta universe has one or all of the following characteristics:
- Shared social space with avatars representing users
- A lasting “world” where the avatar can live and interact
- The ability to own virtual property is like owning physical property
- Ability to create your own virtual property
- Ability to exchange and/or sell virtual property
- IP shared universe from multiple large companies
- Realize full 3D telepresence through VR or AR glasses
Nowadays, it seems that everyone and their parent company are discussing “meta universe” as the next big thing that will completely change our online life. But everyone seems to have their own ideas about the meaning of “meta universe” if they really know its meaning.
“Meta Universe” comes from Stephenson’s “Avalanche”
The term “meta universe” was originally invented by Neil Stephenson. He invented the term in 1992 in the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel “Avalanche.” In the book, Metaverse (which always starts with capital letters in Stephenson’s novels) is a shared “imaginary place” that is “opened to the public through a global optical fiber network” and is projected onto a virtual reality headset superior. In the meta universe, developers can “build buildings, parks, signs, and things that don’t exist in reality, such as huge light shows hanging overhead, special blocks that ignore the rules of three-dimensional space and time, and everyone can hunt each other. Free fight zone to kill.”
In the Facebook Connect keynote that recently announced the company’s name change, Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues mentioned the word “meta universe” more than 80 times within 90 minutes . But Stephenson has made it very clear, “The communication between me and FB is zero, and there is no commercial relationship.” This means that Facebook’s interpretation of “meta universe” may be completely different from Stephenson’s original description.
Although the rebranding of Meta has promoted most of the conversation about the meta-universe during this period, in the nearly 30 years since the advent of “Avalanche”, it has embodied some or most of the content described in Stephenson’s book online The Internet has appeared in large numbers. These efforts to create “metauniverse” include numerous online games and meeting places. Although they have not modified themselves with metauniverse, they have also captured some of the most important concepts of metauniverse.
As Oculus Chief Technology Officer John Carmack said recently: “But now we are here. Mark Zuckerberg has made a decision. Now is the time to build the meta-universe. The huge wheels are starting to spin and resources are Mobility will definitely make corresponding efforts.”
So, is the Metaverse the next major advancement that will completely change the way we communicate with each other? Or is it just repackaging the existing technology into a new, all-encompassing concept? Or just the latest marketing buzzwords?
The answer depends on what you mean by “meta universe”.
Defining the meta universe
In recent years Facebook Connect keynote, Zuckerberg said, “Yuan understand the universe most easier method is to experience something, but do it a little bit difficult, because the yuan universe has not yet fully formed.” As far as we are From the perspective of the position, asking everyone to try something that doesn’t exist, this doesn’t seem to be the best way to let everyone fully understand the company’s bold new direction.
In the keynote speech, Zuckerberg described the grand vision of Metaverse as “a more immersive and embodied Internet”, where “you can do almost anything you can think of-with friends and family gathered together , work, learn, play, shop and create – and totally inconsistent with new types of activities we think of today’s computer or mobile phone, “this is our understanding of a little help, but contain any” almost any “Things you can imagine” is too broad and almost meaningless.
After decomposing Meta’s vision-and treating the history of the meta universe as a concept and the embodiment of multiple different online spaces-we identified the following elements, which together seem to define the meta universe. Any business that uses the term meta universe will include one or all of the following:
Shared social space with avatars representing users
The basic building block of this meta-universe concept is what Zuckerberg called for a more “embodied” Internet. On websites or social media networks, you might use usernames or thumbnails to represent yourself. In the meta-universe, your image may become an avatar that can move, talk, and/or perform animation actions, and it can be customized.
Since the 1990s, this type of avatar has become common in various online games and social spaces (does anyone remember the Habbo Hotel?). However, the fidelity and capabilities of the avatar may vary from service to service. The latest developments in virtual reality allow users to truly embody their fantasy avatars, observe through their virtual eyes, and interact with virtual objects by gesturing with the tracking controller with their hands. If you look at spaces like VRChat, you will know how exquisite these VR avatars have become.
Is “Habao Hotel” a meta universe? Hmm…somewhat like?
A lasting “world” where the avatar can live and interact
In some cases, this means that the virtual world mimics the space constraints of the real world and the scarcity of land, just like the discontinuous plots in Second Life. In some other cases, this simply means that users share a space dedicated to specific games or special time-sensitive events, such as the recent multimedia concert held at Fortnite.
In an idealized meta-universe, every user shares the same virtual world. In this world, everyone can keep their belongings and possessions across online sessions. However, due to technical reasons, many modern meta-universe-like spaces will eventually separate users from multiple shard servers, and only a small number of users can interact with each other.
The ability to own virtual property is like owning physical property
From the Neopets JPG associated with your account, to the powerful collection of equipment in World of Warcraft, this can mean anything. No matter what it is, your virtual property will be associated with you, and it will not disappear after changing a session.
Recently, some people have tried to track and establish the ownership of virtual goods with non-homogeneous tokens (NFT), which will be independent of any control agency or company’s server, which is a decentralized way. In theory, such an NFT can allow virtual goods to move freely between meta-universes controlled by different companies. In practice, this kind of portability requires the development of standards and close cooperation between companies, so it is still a pipe dream.
Ability to create your own virtual property
Allowing users to create their own meta-universe content is a boon for users (thus shaping virtual worlds as they wish) and meta-universe creators (thus not having to spend a lot of time and energy to create each virtual object from scratch). Games like Minecraft and Roblox is a good example, demonstrating provides a relatively simple building blocks of the universe yuan is how the use of network effects and player creativity to produce a wide variety of world record in the creation of.
However, filling the meta-universe with virtual objects is not as simple as “let the user do it”. Issues of control, management, and copyright infringement can become very important, especially if your metaverse is controlled by a company that wants to extract value from all user-generated works (and if users want to share profits).
Games like Minecraft allow users to build their own meta-universes.
Ability to exchange and/or sell virtual property
From the (no longer) gray market where professional gold dealers in “World of Warcraft” can exchange currency, to the strictly regulated universe economy (such as the economy in EVE Online), these are all counted. In the middle, there will be games like “Second Life” that have appeared in court because of disagreements over the “ownership” of the virtual land created by the publisher Linden Labs.
IP shared universe from multiple large companies
This element of the meta universe was popularized by “Ready Player One” (a novel launched in 2011 and adapted into a movie in 2018). It introduces a virtual world that combines countless nostalgic media attributes, including “Joust”, “Dungeons and Dragons”, “WarGames”, and “The Anaconda” ( Monty Python) and “Holy Grail” (Holy Grail), etc.
Media integration is a promotion to this concept. In such a virtual world, Gandalf can fight Bugs Bunny, because IP belongs to the parent company Time Warner. However, cross-border situations that break corporate walled gardens are becoming more and more common: for example, from Sega, Square Enix, Capcom, Namco, Cole Companies such as Konami can appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at the same time. At the same time, official cross-border games such as Disney/Marvel/Star Wars, John Wick, DC Comics, “Ghostbusters”, “God of War”, “Halo”, NFL and other official cross-border games are also available in “Fortress” Play in “Night”.
“Super Smash Bros.” is not just the role of Nintendo.
Realize full 3D telepresence through VR or AR glasses
This is regarded by many as the final step towards the realization of the “complete” meta-universe. Through virtual reality and augmented reality, we are able to transcend the ” magic window ” of the tablet screen and enter another world. In this world, you will occupy the same position with other 3D avatars, thus feeling a kind of “sense of existence”. Like Meta put it inside a keynote speech, “it feels as if we are in a room inside, together with the eyes grok flow, have a common sense of space, rather than watched The faces on the screen.”
VRChat and Meta’s own Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workplaces are early efforts in this area. These are powerful proofs of concept for the operating mechanism of that world. But as Carmack pointed out, sharing a room with the other 16 avatars in Horizon is “far from the meta-universe we imagined”. To realize Carmack’s vision, many technical problems need to be overcome to have a VR virtual world with “thousands of people wandering around” and who can enter and exit virtual rooms at will.
Whose meta universe is this?
In addition to these general building blocks, it is also important to distinguish between “a metaverse” and “The Metaverse”. Although they look similar, they actually have very different meanings.
The difference between the two is control. Broadly speaking, any corporate entity or group of programmers can create a metaverse that meets any or all of the above criteria, just as anyone can create their own social network. In these cases, servers, monitoring user behavior, and setting rules for how the virtual world works are all managed by a single entity.
At the other end is a completely open architecture. In this architecture, different entities and interoperable servers are connected to a shared metaverse, the Metaverse, through a set of agreed sharing standards. The success of WWW and e-mail has shown how this possibility is realized in the wider online world, but similar efforts to establish a meta-universe standard have basically failed.
The meta-universe described in Stephenson’s “Avalanche” lies between these two extremes and is a mixed solution. Stephenson’s Metaverse from the perspective of individual users is “designed by large companies, and graphical representations of countless different software—that is, user interfaces.” But the virtual world in which these software are located is controlled by the Global Multimedia Protocol Group, and developers need to cooperate with it to “get partition approval, obtain permits, bribe inspectors, etc.”.
Although many companies are developing various “metaverses”, the ultimate goal of many of them seems to be to control “The Metaverse”, which is the only place where everyone can share their online life. However, at present, it seems impossible for any Meta universe controlled by a company to become so popular. If there is no feasible, decentralized standard, we may see the scene like this: dozens of fragmented meta-universes, each of which will fight for brain share and market share. There is too much interaction.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Based on the strictness of the above-mentioned different definitions, in fact, many existing online structures can be regarded as meta-universes. Many people have grown up in the game world. In such a game world, sharing a virtual space with other characters represented by the avatar is deeply ingrained in many people’s minds.
A view of Clive Thompson is also very convincing. He felt that no matter where an important aspect to measure, ” My World” (Minecraft) have been regarded as one yuan a universe. Epic’s Tim Sweeney sees Fortnite as the core pillar of the company’s own meta-universe. Roblox, which has a market value of billions of dollars, allows users to create millions of shared public “experiences” under a single standard (don’t call it “games”). There are a few lucky Roblox creators who can even make a living by creating these spaces (some of them have cleverly bypassed IP laws and created unofficial “Squid Game” entertainment activities).
Another day in the meta-universe of Grand Theft Auto Online
“Second Life”, VRChat, and EVE Online can all be regarded as meta universes. In a sense, even a simpler online game like the online version of Grand Theft Auto is a meta-universe. As Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told GamesIndustry.biz recently:
If… the definition of meta-universe is an attractive digital landscape in which people can appear in the form of avatars, they can talk with others and hang out together, they can ride bicycles, surf, ride motorcycles, drive, race, and tell stories. , Listening to stories, holding live events, sitting at the gaming table… Well, then Take-Two is Meta universe.
In this sense, the “meta universe” is not a futuristic idea that has not been finalized, and no one can understand it, but is something that countless companies are building today.
However, when Meta peddled “The Metaverse” to others, what they were talking about was a bit beyond the scope of this basic definition. Under Zuckerberg’s vision, Metaverse is not only a place for people to hang out with avatars, but also a comprehensive revolution in online experience, providing people with a space where most of their online life will be spent. . Meta and others believe that the future meta-universe will be very attractive. It will basically or completely replace the “flat” Internet as we know it, and it will be used for all kinds of things, from holding company meetings, to shopping, and even large-scale social networking. Gathering, it’s all.
For decades, this vision of the meta universe has been relatively common in novels. And there are some signs that the younger generation is more willing to use virtual gatherings instead of real-world gatherings; don’t believe it? Just ask the 12 million people who watched Travis Scott’s concert in Fortnite last year.
But regarding the future metaverse, when considering what online world or real-world functions it should have, you must first ask what problems Metaverse solves for users. Yes, with one VR incarnation along the meeting is more vivid than face to face on a picture of Zoom, the proportion of the real world which is more convenient to travel to meet. However, even with the comfort of VR headsets, the realism of VR avatars may be improved, but for employees who are used to working elsewhere during Zoom meetings, this kind of all-encompassing VR party It seems a bit unbearable.
One thing is certain, that is, shopping in a simulated virtual world is somewhat promising, whether it is an interview driving a car in Fortnite, or buying artificially created scarce virtual goods as an online status symbol. Possible. But how can individual users profit from their creations? Or how appropriate is the commission rate to maintain the normal operation of Metaverse? These problems still exist.
Some people predict that the meta universe is like this. They believe that everyone should be able to make money by playing games (play-to-earn) or creating fine virtual items. But examples like Roblox have actually shown that the economic class of the virtual world and the real world are actually the same, and only the top creators (or those who entered first) can truly live a decent life. In this sense, Stephenson’s “Avalanche” is likely to have his own foresight. He wrote: “Due to early intervention, Hiro’s partners have a first-mover advantage in doing meta-universe business. Some of them have even become very wealthy as a result.”
Now, companies are following their own FOMO (fear of missing out) feelings, and seeking to gain first-mover advantage in the upcoming meta-universe. Before the scaffolding of this thing is even fully built, they claim to have a virtual reality. Beautiful new world. Although Stephenson’s ideas about the meta-universe will continue to appear in countless online worlds, this does not mean that we will soon live together in a unified and independent VR meta-universe.
Or, as Take-Two’s Zelnick said, “If you define the meta-universe as’everything we do in the physical world will become digital,’ then you are talking to a skeptic.”
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/what-is-the-metaverse/
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