Last month , New York times He wrote about something that wasn’t new or worth publishing: a wedding in the “metaverse”.
The bride wore a flower crown with a gray button-up skirt appropriate for a downtown office. The groom looks like Jeff Bezos. At the reception there were guests, a theater and a photo slide show. Everything was familiar, except for the place. Where were they? Turns out, the bride’s company clothes weren’t out of place. Instead of a church or a hall, their wedding took place in a “metaverse”, specifically, an unknown low-level virtual world called Virbela, a product of the real estate company eXp World Holdings, which employs both halves of the couple.
Let’s be clear about one thing: there is no metaverse. At least not yet. Nobody really agrees on what the metaverse is, but together the most credible average definitions result in a perpetual social cyberspace that intersects with the IRL economy and integrates with other internet platforms. At the moment, nothing does that on any noticeable scale. Instead, we have well-attended virtual worlds like Second Life, a collection of multiplayer online role-playing games like world of cansAnd many tech companies are overlooking a new way to differentiate their digital products and services. And, of course, there’s also Virbela and his sparsely populated weirdo relatives that were plucked straight from a recurring version of Internet Explorer in 2005.
There is a definition of anger, of course. Technology companies have discovered the benefits of characterizing the metaverse as a continuation of their products or services. Meta, for example, has decided that VR integration is important to Metaverse. Conveniently, Horizon Worlds is working on the company’s Oculus Quest headset. Then there are the blockchain companies that preach the importance of their coins in their own cyberspace. Now, after nearly a year of hype, it’s marginally easy to separate the meat from the fat metapheres. What we’re dealing with here is cyberspace – connected, embodied, and provided. There is still only one problem. Everything really coveted about this metaverse is like a shortened version of the online games that millions have been playing for decades.
It’s been 20 years since the wedding bells first rang on Second Life. Game developer Square Enix included mechanisms for sending invitations, composing promises and exchanging episodes in 2002 Final Fantasy XI. Outside of weddings, online games already provide the most urgent functions associated with the “metaverse” – often, with greater graphic fidelity, more complex social systems, and on a significantly larger scale. As architects and cyberspace preservers, it is game developers who have iterated and perfected the two to three promising real-world features of the metaverse, which revolves mostly around social communication in virtual worlds.
Since 1996, the furry avatars of players have stood around the Internet in the MMORPG forcadiaPromoter 32 bit. Yet here we are, more than two decades later, hearing tech executives talk about things digital girls were doing back then. It would be nice if it weren’t so worrisome to see these managers do it with the same courage. Mark Zuckerberg’s delirious idea of building the future of work in the metaverse raises the expectations of early tech journalists about how corporate culture will transition to Second Life in a brave new world to come. They promised, we’ll float our winged Sonic the Hedgehog avatars to each other’s booths to talk about Dow Jones. The technologists think the school will be loaded, too. “Aaron Delwich, assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio,” reads a 2004 WIRED article, “Often grouping students in a gaming class for the web in an unlikely classroom: an equation known as Second Life.”