When we talk about the Metaverse, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the ability to window shop through a massive virtual mall? Is it the opportunity to enjoy a perpetual Halloween where you can be whoever you want to be under an umbrella of anonymity? Or does it bring forth dystopian images of an entirely unhealthy generation so jacked in to a pretend world that they become out-of-touch with the real world?
I’ve always believed that technology is amoral. It’s what we do with it that determines whether it’s used for good or evil.
But to be honest, I don’t think these questions are the biggest problem with the Metaverse. The BIGGEST problem is that almost EVERYONE is using the term incorrectly.
Whether we are referring to The Sandbox, Decentraland, Crypto Voxel, Somnium Space or any of the dozens of NFT projects who are promising their own Metaverse to holders of their assets, none of them are using the term correctly. In fact, it may be a red flag when a company or brand positions themselves as THE Metaverse. Yes, I’m looking at you Mark Zuckerberg.
While Merriam-Webster hasn’t recognized it as such, culturally we refer to subsets of worlds as “verses”. For example, the Spider-verse is the continuum of all things that fit within the world of our favorite web slinger, Spiderman. The comics, cartoons, books and films within the Spider-verse are designed to operate under the same backstory, containing characters and themes found throughout the narratives.
These self-contained “verses” are worlds to themselves.
That’s what The Sandbox, Decentraland and the scores of other worlds are… individual verses that operate under their own rules. It’s very possible to have multiple verses within a verse. For example, the world builder apps such as Sandbox allow you to create your own verse on your land. My plot could be built out as an art gallery and my neighbor’s plot could be a platformer game. But the entire collection of uniquely built out plots in Sandbox still do not make the world itself the Metaverse.
I would propose that there can only be ONE Metaverse, and it is still in the future. The true Metaverse is a singular thing that will be brought about when all of the platforms, blockchains and protocols unite for true interoperability. When logging into Minecraft allows me to send my pickaxe to Decentraland, and taking my avatar from AltSpace VR to Fortnite, providing a unified way for us to access all the things, only then will we have a the true METAverse.
Until that time, what everyone is actually talking about is how they are building out their “verse” which they hope will one day be an integral part of The Metaverse. It will be a long time before we get there, so for now you’ll find me in a number of different verses.