What The Heck Is “The Metaverse”?

The Covid pandemic stopped travel and closed down businesses, slowing down economies, inflicting political divide, and making us question authority and our roles in the greater human community. Most of us have been set back invaluable time, energy, resources, and relationships. Many of us have lost much more.

Tron Disco Club – Photo by Ultra Lord

If we’ve gained anything from the past couple years, it’s a strong inclination that how we’ve operated economically and socially is fragile and unsustainable. That’s where the metaverse comes in.

Downtown – Photo by Ultra Lord

In 1992, Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Snow Crash defined “the metaverse” as a computer-generated, virtual reality playground, a parallel universe of sorts. It served as an extension of real life economy and social networks, and was open to anyone with a decent computer. 

Today, 29 years into the future, science fiction is reality.

Somnium Space VR, a metaverse world with virtual homes and businesses, fast cars, and immersion suits that will soon allow the wearer a near-totally immersive sensory experience, is open to everyone and offers fun environments and experiences that can be shared with friends and colleagues- old and new- free-of-charge.

Sky City Concert Hall – Photo by Ultra Lord

In the Somnium Space metaverse, it’s effortless engaging with customers and audiences without limits like proximity or fear of viruses. Players from all over the world can build and participate in the growing creator economy, in which creators and consumers alike can trade skills and digital assets like avatars, property, art, vehicles and more over the Ethereum blockchain. Interoperability with additional decentralized currencies will be incorporated in the near future.

Tron Disco Club – Photo by Ultra Lord

Already, businesses and individuals, some of whom might not otherwise be able to afford it in the real world, own virtual property inside of Somnium Space. These places are used for anything from recording podcasts and presentations, to relaxing and hanging out, with new use cases being discovered every day.  

As you read this, creators are developing new Somnium Worlds within Somnium Space.

These worlds will act as independent instances where visitors can enjoy additional games, experiences and environments, all built, owned, and operated by the players, on top of the existing platform.

Prizm Club – Photo by Ultra Lord
You don’t have to spend money in Somnium Space to participate.

All are welcome. If you have a good internet connection and a gaming PC (a VR headset is recommended, but optional), you can enjoy Somnium Space’s realistic open world. Catch a sunset at the beach, play paintball with friends, attend (or perform) a concert, gamble at a casino, host an improv group, kayak on the lake, get music lessons, shop at an art gallery, fly, be a VOID alien avatar for a couple of hours, and more.

Deep Oasis Lake – Photo by Ultra Lord

If you don’t have a gaming PC, Somnium Space offers the Somnium Web Client, which hosts hundreds of virtual meetings daily. Users can still enjoy virtual venues and communicate with others as digital avatars – all for free.

Sky City Concert Hall – Photo by Ultra Lord

Soon, most major companies will host virtual experiences in the metaverse. 

Facebook has invested in virtual reality tech like Oculus with plans to launch its own metaverse soon. Opponents argue that Facebook’s centralized and ad-driven model will perpetuate its existing problems, with the end product being not unlike the dystopian, parasitic ecosystem pictured in the movie Wall-E. More decentralized, blockchain-native alternatives like Somnium Space will stand the test of time through intrinsic creative autonomy, actual ownership and equitable distribution.

“The metaverse is the constellation of different worlds. It’s not one world…there will not be one company which will rule them all. The world is moving away from that… because web 3.0 applications and technology is moving away from that. So the metaverse is a constellation of different worlds and different experiences.

Artur Sychov, Founder and CEO of Somnium Space, Exploring the Metaverse Podcast

The metaverse and places like Somnium Space won’t replace real life.

What they will do is remove many of the barriers found in the real world, facilitating highly immersive, realistic virtual experiences that strengthen the remote peer-to-peer connection (professional and personal) that social media has advertised, but has fallen short of providing.

Those who see the value and participate in the metaverse now, before the advent of mass social-VR adoption, will not only have first-mover advantage, but have the historic privilege of developing a fairer world where more people can build, meet, trade, work, play and create. One thing is for sure: the metaverse does not only exist – it will fast become a big part of all of our lives.

Oly is a writer, musician, and explorer.

Follow her on Twitter and check out her vrGuitars Nfts on OpenSea.

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