2003, the online world of Second Life begins – and quickly becomes a sensation. Because here you can find everything that exists in the real world – and much more: university lectures, cool clubs, orgy parties with tentacle beasts, a shop from Deutsche Telekom and cheerful real estate agents who want to sell you virtual property. Things are quiet around Second Life now, but there are still a few people walking around chatting, building, dancing and having intercourse.
The Internet becomes a real space
You can imagine the metaverse as a network of virtual city-states, which also have their own rules, cultural codes and architectural characteristics. Most important: You can seamlessly travel back and forth between these virtual city-states, just like browsing from one website to another. The Internet already consists of many websites, communities, and forums. The metaverse can give this domain a kind of spatial embodiment – at least that’s the promise. But no one knows exactly what that will look like.
In pop culture, the visions are more clear. The term “metaverse” first appeared in a 1992 novel. But the way Neil Stevenson interprets the equation in “Snow Crash” has nothing to do with what he understands of the term today. Metaverse is located in Stevenson on a huge road. From here you can enter different sub-universes. On the other hand, the metaverse in Tad Williams’ sci-fi series “Otherland” from 1996, is a veritable network of connected virtual worlds. The user has to login only once and can enter all the worlds. In William’s book series, humans also populate the metaverse not only as representations of themselves, but also as animals, spirit beings, or even disembodied entities. The book “Ready Player One” by Ernst Klein, photographed by Steven Spielberg in 2018, is also about the metaverse. The virtual world “Oasis” began as an online role-playing game, but it was constantly expanded, expanded and equipped with new features, so that it evolved into a kind of “online”.
READY PLAYER ONE – Official Trailer 1 [HD]
Mark Zuckerberg: “Facebook has become a Metaverse”
Even today, there have been online games or game-like environments for a long time, such as Roblox or Fortnite, that come very close to the idea of the metaverse. This is another reason why the metaverse isn’t just a grandiose vision that haunts the minds of science fiction authors as a fixed idea. Concrete work is underway. There are always lighter and more powerful VR glasses out there. There are servers that can calculate virtual environments for thousands of people. And there is blockchain technology, which enables not only digital money, but also virtual items that can be taken in many metaverses. But there is also, above all, investment – and business interest. “Because of course, companies will also make money from everything in this metaverse, depending on how many there will be,” says Michael Förtsch. For example, when someone buys a plot of land, uses a virtual apartment, a piece of clothing, or a fast travel job.
Retail chain CU plans its own store on the Metaverse Zepeto
But it’s not just companies that are excited about the Metaverse, ordinary people too. Aetheria, a virtual Cyberpunk city, is currently being built in Decentraland, one of the largest Metaverse projects with around 20,000 users. At some point, you should be able to stroll the shopping arcades and participate in the searches for digital drives in the plazas. But that’s not the only reason metaphysics can become a completely miserable event. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he wants to turn Facebook into the metaverse. It seemed like a threat.
Walled garden or metaverse?
Because it is hard to imagine that the scandalous company Facebook will lead the world into a bright future for MetaFX. A company known to be less concerned with the open internet and more concerned with the internet within the internet. “The true metaverse can only emerge when the different worlds grow together,” says Michael Förtsch. “So if you don’t have a Decentraland here and the Facebook metaverse there”. Instead, the different domains must be connected, as if one could now fluently switch from the online game World of Warcraft to Second Life, only to then find themselves in the space game No Man’s Sky. Just as in the boring internet of the present, the true meaning of the future will also be about the question of how open it can be — and should be.