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What Can You Actually Do in the Metaverse?

What Can You Actually Do in the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is often framed in such futuristic terms that it’s hard to see how you can engage with it today. But the truth is, metaverse-like worlds have been around for decades, and you may have experienced some without necessarily realizing it.

What is the Metaverse again?

Based on the concept of venture capitalist Matthew Ball, the Metaverse is a persistent online world that blurs the lines between reality and virtual reality. Much more than a Call of Duty game, the Metaverse refers to a world online 24/7 through economies that incentivize a new network of developers and infrastructure providers. Crucially, this economy revolves around interoperable in-game assets. This concept is very different from the “walled gardens” (closed ecosystems) we are used to today. The Ball provides an example of a Counter-Strike weapon design that could easily become a Fortnite decoration.

While Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta (formerly Facebook) has its take on the Metaverse, the cryptocurrency community believes blockchain technology is a perfect fit for this new online world. Crypto games such as The Sandbox and Decentraland provide early indications of how a creator…The crypto- and NFTs-powered economy could work.

Build, explore, and play in virtual worlds.

Games like Minecraft and Roblox have offered metaverse-like experiences for almost a decade; both Second Life and Eve Online have been alive since 2003, and World of Warcraft came to Life in 2004. Second Life is one of the closest analogs of the Metaverse due to its creator-led economy and sprawling sandbox world. Just like in Second Life, it’s been documented that some people spend their lives in the game, living off virtual land, reaping Linden dollars in-game currency, and attending events. Crypto games like The Sandbox and Decentraland are stepping up to the gaming economy in the 2020s by incorporating digital assets. Not only can you import your non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into games and buy virtual land, but you can also take advantage of the games’ fungible governance. Tokens to change the parameters of the virtual world you will inhabit, explore, and build.

Cryptoeconomics aside, these games play like any other sandbox game. You can roam the respective virtual worlds of the games and hang out with the brands and celebrities who want to conquer the market. In virtual spaces like malls, art galleries, or squares, you can walk and talk to people, play games, build houses, or attend events. It decentralized and even organized its music festivals. Unfortunately, despite modern computer game graphics advances, many of these recent games don’t look any better than Second Life in 2003. But the magic, in theory, is in the relationships you can build with your virtual siblings.

Meet people from anywhere for work or play.

There are many gathering rooms in the Metaverse. While you can gather in massive open worlds like The Sandbox and Decentraland, you can also play custom rooms on platforms like Spatial. These apps are specially designed for events, conferences, and meetings. You can log into Spatial with a Web 2 login like Google or a Web 3 login like MetaMask. Spatial virtual worlds are divided into rooms. You can visit pre-made rooms or create your own.

Spatial galleries are NFT-compatible. You can navigate the world of Spatial on mobile, on Steam, in a browser, or through an Oculus VR headset. VR is strong in one of Ball’s criteria for the Metaverse: presence, like an HTC Vive, Valve Index, or Meta (formerly Oculus) Quest, and launch into cyberspace. Meta (formerly Facebook) is building a social hub for its VR headsets, and Steam’s VR software comes preloaded with a virtual home.

VR chat games predate cryptography by allowing you to enter rooms full of others wearing VR headsets and dressed in any avatar.

Create a 3D avatar that looks like you—or not.

Your avatar is a big part of your identity in the Metaverse. Some high-profile picture NFTs, such as CryptoPunks or Bored Ape Yacht Club on Discord and Twitter, are mostly text-based platforms where a 2D image suffices. Realms 3D, apps like Ready Player One, and games like VR Chat offer composable digital identities that are said to be usable in 1,330 apps and games, including Nike’s RTFKT, Somnium Space, and VR Chat. You can also buy an NFT sneaker from RTFKT or an avatar from their upcoming “Avatar Project,” although it’s unclear which games you’ll be able to “wear” them in.

In Somnium Space, an Ethereum-based open virtual reality world similar to Decentraland, you can import a Ready Player One avatar made from nothing more than a selfie. According to the Ball framework, this meets the criteria for interoperability: the ability to take your digital assets with you, no matter what platform or app you use.

Invest in virtual land, NFTs, or tokens.

If you are still interested in disconnecting from reality, you can always invest in living in virtual worlds. There are many ways to do this. You could invest in NFT avatars like those offered by Nike or Adidas. You can speculate on virtual terrain or in-game items like those offered in Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and The Sandbox. You can also invest in the fungible tokens these games offer, which act as in-game currency.

If you are still deciding which token to invest in, you can always invest in a Metaverse index fund such as the Metaverse Index (VMI) offered by Index Coop. The VMI rebalances your portfolio according to the largest Metaverse coins of the day. If cryptocurrencies aren’t your thing, you could invest in the equity of virtual reality and metaverse companies. Meta is a company heavily betting on the future of virtual and augmented reality; an analyst from Seeking Alpha estimates that the company spent $70 billion on the concept between 2014 and 2023. Virtual reality, metaverse stocks, and private investments are also on the table.

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