Some of the biggest companies in the world as well as smaller tech companies hoping to join their ranks by creating an immersive virtual reality where people can socialize, find entertainment and buy stuff.
Yet “the metaverse” is still a very loose concept, and not just because the virtual reality (VR) technology needed for any kind of immersive experience is years old.
The only real answer — so to speak — comes from author Neal Stephenson, who coined the term two decades ago in his novel “Snow Crash” to describe a single, complete virtual world in which people could somehow live. second life by proxy.
See also: What is a metaverse and why do we organize a fashion show?
On Wednesday, June 22, three dozen companies, ranging from Meta and Microsoft to Alibaba and Ikea, announced the creation of an organization to understand what it is and apply certain standards to prevent it from exploding into a vast series. of incompatibilities and competitors. virtual worlds.
And although the Metaverse Standards Forum (MSF) is in many ways similar to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that developed the modern Internet, the breadth of the technical issues it works on – ranging from creating photorealistic content and geospatial systems with physical simulation and online economies – shows how unfinished this concept is.
One or more ?
A fundamental question about the metaverse is whether singular is the right way to describe it. Its stated purpose, “to foster the open interoperability of metaverses”, suggests that it may be less Stephenson’s vision of a single space enveloping the globe than a sea of metaverses with larger spaces. and more diverse – like the current but nascent blockchain-based Decentraland, or Whatever the vision for the next generation of social media, Mark Zuckerberg has renamed his company Meta.
Many massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like World of Warcraft (WoW), forum member Epic Games’ Fortnite, and blockchain-based Axie Infinity are essentially pre-metaverses where characters can interact in different ways. ways, not all of which involve killing monsters or each other.
Guilds, for example, are at the heart of WoW, with groups of players coming together not only to run through dungeons that require 10-25 players with a variety of specialties, but also to share gear and advice, and in many cases socialize.
But by the same token, a simple flight simulator game — Microsoft’s one dates back three decades — is to some extent an immersive virtual experience.
The comparison to the W3C suggests that the Metaverse won’t be a single mall-like experience like Decentraland, where anyone can set up shop and offer games, entertainment, concerts, retailers and entertainment spaces. company that could cover everything from marketing to customer service. .
Ikea, for example, is a founding member of MSF, which suggests its vision is to ditch its warehouse-like outlets for a virtual space where shoppers can wander through the display area and room setup. from their sofa before choosing a Hemnes bookcase to be shipped rather than executed.
With a common set of standards, the POS could be set up in many different metaverses – Decentraland, Fortnite, or even Zuckerberg’s eventual Meta land. Or Ikealand could simply be its own space, running in the cloud of Ikea which uses large metaverses as a sort of search engine, advertising its offerings and directing customers there.
This begs the question: is the metaverse going to be a revolutionary new virtual reality, which alters the social fabric, as its proponents claim, or just the web with 3D glasses?