Humanity is long past the point of humble acceptance of our physical world as new technologies arise and inspire us to question all that lies beyond. While our era of connectivity may have been considered an optimistic and unrealistic possibility just a few decades ago, today it is unquestionably the way we live, work, and communicate with each other. The Internet has helped us create a completely new reality. However, it seems that the human mind is finally ready to explore new possibilities in the face of the long-awaited virtual world. The gradual shift from Web2 to Web3 and the emergence of a blockchain-powered Metaverse is the final phase of realizing this aspiration.
But what is this virtual world after all? Let’s explore this virtual reality and answer one key question – how to enter the Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a shared, virtual, immersive and interactive universe that uses state-of-the-art technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and blockchain to create three-dimensional worlds with diverse experiences. It can’t be described as a monolithic platform but rather an aggregation of applications, experiences and virtual assets, which all share a common denominator – an infrastructure layer based on blockchain technology. The Metaverse exists in the Web3 space, where blockchain-based dApps prevail and decentralization is the founding principle.
It’s possible for separate virtual worlds to coexist in a metaverse, where denizens can engage in digital activities via an avatar. Some of the existing experiences in today’s Metaverse include playing games, visiting virtual concerts, meeting friends and even buying virtual land.
The exciting concept of the Metaverse has been a common theme in the science fiction genre for generations. From novels like Snow Crash to movies like Ready Player One and anime like Sword Art Online, living in a virtual world is nothing new to our imagination. However, our understanding of the Metaverse today can easily be compared to what we knew about the Internet in the 1970s. We may have had a mere awareness that the building blocks of a new type of communication were being laid, but it was impossible to imagine the full implications of such a shift.
Similarly, a full Metaverse existence is still a long distance away and we can only base our understanding on existing platforms with metaverse-like elements.
What is blockchain’s role in the Metaverse?
Blockchain facilitates the construction of the Metaverse as a base layer that connects different experiences and applications. The technology also enables the creation of digital economies based on utility tokens and virtual collectables like NFTs. But there is more as to why blockchain is suited to the Metaverse. If we were to imagine a digital replica of our world, it would certainly demand a digital economy, a way of proving ownership over assets as well as access to secure transfers of digital currencies or other valuables to participants. It would also need to be easily accessible from different parts of the world and to be governed reliably.
Blockchain technology, although still in its early stages of development, has the capacity to facilitate all of the mentioned above. It supports virtual economies via crypto tokens and provides digital proof of ownership through the use of digital wallets like MetaMask. Blockchain also makes the Metaverse easily accessible as creating a wallet is something anyone can take advantage of on a public blockchain.
Another key role the technology plays in a metaverse is that it guarantees ownership over assets. In-game items in a standard game are vulnerable to theft, but an NFT contains immutable ownership information, meaning that it cannot be stolen or altered. Blockchain also supports secure transfers of assets and currencies across different applications, contributing to a unified Metaverse in the future.
Properties of the blockchain-powered Metaverse
A Metaverse powered by blockchain technology is decentralized, persistent, social and boundless. It’s a universe that would continue evolving with contributions from its denizens in the form of different virtual activities and creative solutions.
Blockchain is decentralized at its core, with no dependence on a single corporation or governing body. In a blockchain-powered Metaverse, ownership is spread to all participants in the virtual world, who hold control over their personal data. Transactions in a Metaverse that runs on blockchain are public, traceable, secure and immutable.
A Metaverse is not like a game that you can stop or reboot. In its pure and complete form, it’s a virtual life that evolves as a result of the shared contributions of all participants involved. Anyone can become part of the Metaverse, helping the virtual universe grow and expand its shapes and forms.
The ways in which the Metaverse will evolve depend on the necessities of its members. Via the use of AI-driven avatars, users can generate creative content, create new types of social events and design innovative ways to exchange information and share experiences. In a sense, a blockchain-powered Metaverse could challenge the way we communicate. For example, there are already virtual concerts taking place in the early form of the Metaverse.
Last but not least, a Metaverse is boundless in the sense that it creates an interconnected universe, with no boundaries as to what is possible and what is not. Without any physical barriers thanks to the 3D virtual environment, the Metaverse could support any type of activity, industry, and experience.
How to enter the Metaverse
If we assume that the Metaverse is an inevitable continuation of our highly connected world and the next iteration of the World Wide Web, the big question will be how to enter the Metaverse. The truth is that you may be part of the in-progress version of the Metaverse without being fully aware of it. For example, if you’re part of the Web3, have a crypto wallet, or have bought an NFT – you’re already part of the Metaverse.
Currently, there is no single united Metaverse but rather separate Metaverse-based projects that different platforms like The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Axie Infinity are experimenting with. The majority of the existing Metaverse projects run on Ethereum and use their own Metaverse tokens. Sandbox uses SAND, Decentraland uses MANA, while Axie Infinity’s native governance token is AXS. Although to enter different Metaverse platforms you may be required to take different steps, all platforms share three core requirements – setting up an account, creating a digital wallet, and building your avatar.
What can we do in the Metaverse?
As mentioned above, a truly complete unified Metaverse is boundless and offers a myriad of different experiences and opportunities for its members. The existing version of the Metaverse may still be far from complete, but it already provides users with unique virtual activities.
For example, you can purchase virtual property in platforms like The Sandbox and Decentraland that you can resell or use to construct digital buildings on. Virtual land can also be used for a wide range of different social activities, business and entertainment events like meetings, gallery exhibitions and more.
The virtual space is also actively tapping into gaming opportunities. We’ve already noted some of the names that are at the forefront of the race, but others like Illuvium are also attracting gamers to the Metaverse.
Other virtual activities that users can explore in the Metaverse include social interactions, events and even business activities. For instance, a company looking to hire fresh talent can set up a virtual booth in the Metaverse and get to know applicants better, regardless of where they’re based.
There are also substantial opportunities related to asset trading and other economic activities that could help you generate a side income or perhaps one day – reliable earnings.
The future ahead
The first steps may have already been laid, but a full-fledged virtual universe is still a distant ambition. As we continue making progress and incorporate advanced technologies like VR and AR to reach more sophistication and wider digitization of the world, we are likely to get closer to creating the worlds that we were introduced to in sci-fi productions, and even better. It’s impossible to pinpoint when a true Metaverse will emerge and if it will have the interconnectedness that meets our imagination but we can embrace the experiences that today’s metaverse-like and blockchain-based projects offer.