Unwrapping a new virtual world: the metaverse

A brand-new way of experiencing life and work is emerging with the advent of the metaverse. However, if individuals and businesses truly want to harness its potential, they will need to have a clear understanding of its key characteristics and components.  

VR headset

A new virtual landscape

As the race to build the metaverse heats up, its bystanders are beginning to question which qualities will be most instrumental in guaranteeing mass adoption. Among those under consideration is interoperability – connecting economies, avatars and systems across virtual worlds – and it is still unclear which emerging player will first have the critical mass to impose its standards.

And yet, the ability to traverse virtual worlds seamlessly is believed by many consumers to be an essential attribute of the metaverse. Just like any other avatars of the platform economy, the metaverse seems to be a race for critical mass with a very real “winner takes all” edge to it.  

But for the promise of the metaverse to be realized it must also remain open in other ways. Open to various influences, from the real world – inclusive of the economic and political environment – and originating from the virtual universe itself.  

Ultimately, the metaverse will be an extension of the economic and political domain. Those that participate in it, whether as a business or as an individual, must have the opportunity to modify it in a sustainable way. Making a mark in the metaverse will of course be a gamble, with investment risks – just like in the real world. 

The very concept of the metaverse is intimately linked to the notion of property. For the metaverse to be built it must be technologically possible to tap into the widespread mimetic desire to possess objects which hold exchange value. Despite hosting exclusively digital representations, businesses are relying upon the latter when buying prime real estate within virtual geographies and when pursuing other economic objectives. 

However, to make this all possible the virtual universe must first be stable – having a continuous existence. It is this sine qua non condition which will justify the amount of time and money invested in its development. In this respect, the development of the metaverse seems to be intrinsically linked to that of NFTs and blockchain. Whereas NFTs can ensure the exchange value of rare virtual items, blockchain is the technology best able to guarantee property rights of easily replicable digital assets. 

AI is also crucial to ensuring the metaverse’s stability and flexibility. Tech experts will rely on AI algorithms to make data calculations and predictions, create avatars and realistic non-player characters, and facilitate machine learning tasks like translation.  

Grasping the role that AI, NFTs, and blockchain play in the metaverse’s development, and the way in which it will mirror the real world (in being immersive, vast, open, flexible, and stable) is critical. After all, it is by understanding this virtual world’s key attributes that businesses will be able to make the most out of the platform.  

While the building blocks and characteristics that will make the metaverse successful pose challenges for its developers, they will provide plentiful opportunities for its users. The big question now is just how long will we have to wait before the metaverse becomes part of our reality? 

Beyond the technological marvels that define the metaverse, there lies a profound shift in social dynamics and digital interaction. As we stand on the brink of this digital renaissance, it’s essential to consider the cultural and psychological implications of life in parallel worlds. The metaverse promises a fusion of reality and virtuality, where social connections are not bound by physical space, and where creative expression finds new horizons. This digital frontier challenges us to redefine the essence of community and identity, as users will not only consume content but also create and govern it. As we venture into this unmapped expanse, the potential for innovation is boundless, beckoning a future where the digital and physical realms are inextricably linked.

Alexandre Ney

Alexandre Ney

Operational Director, Novelab

Thomas Jeanneney

Thomas Jeanneney

Director, Pixel Alliance and Seven Circles

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