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What is the metaverse?

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Published/Updated in: December 10, 2021
Written by XFLOKIVERSE Crew

The new virtual reality topic that has spread like wildfire over the last couple months is that of the Metaverse, which has seen an exponential increase in traffic trend across search engines, but what is the Metaverse? How does it work? Can it benefit me? 

The fire was ignited by the social media giant Facebook, with their announcement regarding the renaming of the company to Meta, expressing their commitment in pursuing the opportunities that come with the brand new technology innovation Metaverse.
It has been described by many companies, enthusiasts, and professionals that a metaverse platform has the ability to improve a massive range of processes across several industries including retail, construction, and entertainment. As the XFLOKIVERSE is derived from the metaverse and a gaming ecosystem, we thought we would take a look at the virtual reality landscape, and how it has changed over the last 20 years.

So What is the Metaverse?

In a literal sense, it is defined as a digital universe supporting 3D virtual environments connected to by an augmented or virtual reality headset.  

The meaning originates from Snow Crash, a science-fiction novel published in 1992, written by Neal Stephenson. The Metaverse term was coined by the creation of this book, which revolves around the concept of a 3D virtual world, a depictive reality allowing users to interact with each other through avatars. 

The novel describes the metaverse as being a get away from the corruption and negativity that plagues reality, a paradise essentially where choices can be made without the consequences of real-life society. Accessing the metaverse is conducted through computers and public terminals and the immersion is experienced in a first person perspective to further depict real life scenarios that may take place within the universe. 

The novel contains a sub-society that is made up of extremely committed individuals who rarely disconnect from the metaverse, essentially living within the virtual world. These players are titled Gargoyles due to their monstrous appearance. Gargoyles are usually statues on the roofs of churches in a watching-over stance to symbolise the protection from evil. The author may have chosen this name due to the players being employed by the CIA, whose sole purpose is to record everything a player does and says.

Snow Crash was released in a time where the internet had just been introduced worldwide, so the idea of creating a virtual iteration of it may have been what Neal Stephenson was trying to portray. 

Since then, the term metaverse has increased in popularity exponentially, primarily in the gaming industry. As the metaverse depiction of “real life” is essentially role-play, anyone who has played an RPG oriented game will see the potential that the metaverse has for entertainment. Being able to immerse yourself into a virtual world and interact through customizable avatars with real-world people is just scratching the surface of what is possible with it. 

Technology advancements in recent years have furthered the possibility of creating a fully-interactive digital universe where we will be able to live, work, and/or play with other people - a mirror image of reality. With the recent boom of Cryptocurrency, projects with gaming platforms are beginning to announce their keen-eye for the metaverse proposition.

Modern VR Interpretations

Meta, formerly Facebook, describes the Metaverse as “the next evolution of social connection - 3D spaces in the metaverse will let you socialize, learn, collaborate, and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine, with friends and the public.” 

Ernest Cline, a science fiction novelist, wrote Ready Player One, a modernized depiction of the original Snow Crash, and is arguably unit 1, lesson 1 of the “What is the metaverse?” syllabus.  The book contains the story of a virtual world called the Oasis, which is set in the year 2045, and follows the main character Wade Watts, as he searches for a hidden easter egg: a term given to purposely hidden features in software, particularly in games. The game creator in Ready Player One, hides the easter egg and announces whoever finds it will inherit the mammoth fortune his will holds.

The Oasis is accessed through a setup comprising a headset and haptic gloves: a data glove used as an input into a human interaction with computers. The character lives in an extremely claustrophobic city project that is clearly overpopulated, which supports the idea of creating a virtual world where those real-world issues are non-existent. 

After the book received multiple awards and recognition, Steven Speilberg collaborated with Ernest Cline to create a Ready Player One movie released in 2018, which is arguably the reason the virtual reality metaverse gained a mainstream audience outside of the games industry. The movie was written corresponding to the book, and was filmed to show a better understanding of what a metaverse environment would potentially look like.

Meta and Microsoft

Just recently, Facebook announced out of the blue they were renaming their social media company to Meta, with aspirations to start creating the metaverse and implementing it into general activities. The metaverse is still in very early stages of development, mainly theoretical, but Meta’s announcement regarding their commitment to developing the metaverse is making other companies follow suit, most notably Microsoft, whom which may propose a faster adoption than we’ve ever seen. 

Meta may have all the focus of metaverse-related topics on them, but Microsoft has developed technology advancements like motion tracking, 5G, and cloud computing that will have many benefits in creating the metaverse. Current problems that are deterring investors and players from VR are latency, nausea, and the lack of worthwhile content, which can begin to be worked on now that these top companies have dedicated their focus to the new topic. 

Microsoft Mesh is a virtual-space created for interaction in one world, a useful tool for Microsoft team meetings for businesses with overseas clients or employees. The VR space can read the definition of each person and create the avatar in animation form, to represent the users on each end. This platform is aiming for a 2022 release.

You may be thinking that they’ve already created the metaverse with this but it's not that simple. The metaverse aims to be a single universal combining all worlds into one so that all players can interact with each other one a single platform. Microsoft Mesh are small worlds created for certain reasons like a meeting, not for a replication of reality - a far more advanced concept that Meta ignited along with other companies.

What Meta Envisions with the Metaverse

The first proper introduction into Meta’s aspirations for the metaverse was conducted at the annual Facebook Connect Conference (2021), where Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of the company, walked through the potential creation of a “virtual universe”.

As mentioned before, the metaverse can benefit several industries through the creation of virtual housing and construction, offices, and ecommerce worlds for businesses around the world. Users will also be able to use applications that already exist in the real-world like Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. There are many different ways people can interact within the virtual world, explained by Zuckerberg in his presentation on the Meta homepage where he situated an iterated look of what a waterfront home in the metaverse will look like. 

The metaverse will merge the real-world and digital world together through virtual and augmented reality headsets, gaining more attention every year due to the endless possibilities spoken about around the idea of a societal universe. Horizon Worlds, formerly Facebook Horizon, is a VR game and creation platform, released in 2019 to Oculus VR headset users, which is also owned by Meta. This year, the company released a beta for their Horizon Workrooms: a similar program to Microsoft Mesh where team meetings and activities can take place virtually through Oculus.

A new release, presumably used for metaverse access, was also announced at the Facebook Connect conference. Titled Project Cambria, it is a new premium model for VR headsets as well as a smartwatch - could we see it iterating the haptic gloves seen in Ready Player One? Maybe.

Other companies seeing a future in the Metaverse

Epic Games has expressed their $1 billion funding along with an investment from Sony Group Corporation to implement the games from both developer giants into the metaverse. The fortnite creator exploded in popularity and revenue in 2018 and has since become a huge player in the gaming industry. Having them onboard the metaverse train could attract their massive following to the new technology once it releases.

Roblox have created a virtual platform allowing the creation of games from its users, with the in-game currency, Robux, being the source for purchasing items and downloadable content (DLCs). The game is free but because of its add-ons, it's quickly becoming solidified in the gaming industry, and have already begun incorporating metaverse aspects into their ecosystem. 

Zoom is arguably the forefront of video calling during this pandemic, when a work-related online call is mentioned, it's usually done over a Zoom call or Google Meets. The company provided an easy-to-use calling application allowing anyone, primarily businesses, to have joint meetings, calls, or conferences from anywhere in the world. It's clear that they could benefit from metaverse technology by having the ability to sit next to co-workers during the calls instead of through a camera. However, the CEO Eric Yuan has mentioned that it's still years away from the adoption of metaverse. 

Samsung has joined the “metaverse alliance” - a coordination between partners with metaverse aspirations created by the Ministry of Science and ICT in South Korea. Samsung as a company is giant, and potentially having their products within the metaverse will allow its expansive following to purchase new phones, laptops, fridges, TVs, and anything on offer, from the comfort of their home. This means people will no longer have to go to the stores to test a product they’ve seen online, it will potentially be possible to do so in the virtual universe.

Sony has already jumped on the metaverse train, and was one of the first with their VR headset released in 2016. They’ve expressed their interest in the metaverse through the release of virtual reality games using their own headset. Playstation is a huge player in the gaming industry and will no doubt be further developing their headset to grant access into the metaverse if and when it becomes available. Being able to play any game virtually with your friends in a massively multiplayer environment is an expected future in the industry and Sony will inevitably be behind it. 

Is the Metaverse run by someone?

The lingering questions when the metaverse is mentioned is who runs it and how is my privacy secured? There is a lot of unknown about it, and although there will be several tech regulations and privacy conditions in place, Facebook haven’t necessarily been clear of the spotlight in terms of misuse of data privacy. 

In Meta’s introduction to metaverse, it was mentioned that privacy and security would of course be a top priority, as it is with other forms of technology. The metaverse concept is a much more in-depth iteration of the internet, and therefore may come with many security implications once it launches. Meta would implement safety walls for attacks such as avatar identity theft. The metaverse will inevitably be a fully-controlled space, to ensure user safety and to have defense against any possible security breaches.

Take the pandemic for example, right now there are major protests taking place around the world regarding the vaccine proposal. Social platforms are an initial breeding ground for these organized group activities, and the misinformation being spread about certain topics could be far worse in a virtual environment - where you could essentially interact with anyone in first-person.

Accessing the Digital Universe

Meta has put an estimated date on the new technology’s release date, which is at least 10 - 15 years. The reason for this far date is due to the metaverse being merely a conceptualized theory at its current stage. It is something that cannot be rushed, with very high risk of corrupting people’s lives if not secured and created thoroughly. Announcing a far date to the public allows the company plenty of time to create the metaverse without a release expectation clouding their progress.

So how do we access the virtual-space once it's live? Just like current virtual games are accessed, VR headsets will be used to transfer the user into the metaverse, with also some form of wearable technology like gloves for increased realism. The headsets cover the eyes of the user and display the game in first-person perspective, and can be accessed at any place. The current VR headsets available have a few problems that the estimated metaverse date will help with, by giving time to companies to solve headaches, nausea, and other negative effects users have experienced. This is the main interpretation of entry into the universe, but projects in the crypto space are getting involved by requiring metaverse tokens to be held in order for entry eligibility into their universe, when it becomes available.

Meta already has the Oculus Rift VR headset, along with other ones made by HP, HTC, and Samsung. VR headsets are becoming increasingly popular among gaming enthusiasts, and have had both positive and negative feedback, more so to the lacking content available. The idea and vision for virtual reality makes people very fond of it but it's a highly-advanced technology that isn’t quite where people imagine it to be yet. Gaming companies are releasing new virtual games like Half-Life Alyx, which is part of a Valve development series that hadn’t seen a release in over a decade. 

A new premium Oculus headset has been revealed by Meta, and is set to hit stores in 2022. 

An internet connection and headset is all that is needed to enter the metaverse, but cheaper ways may also be available for people who don’t wish to pay the premium required for these products. However the immersion will most likely lack in comparison to the industry-standard headsets. There are many areas where free internet is offered, but this aspect could become an underlying problem for places getting hit with influxes of people willing to spend long hours in the metaverse. As Meta’s vision entails everyone using the platform, and because it offers opportunities that some find impossible in the real world, it could be convincing for people to spend their entire days immersed in the virtual world.

The metaverse will greet players with a customization menu similar to Cyberpunk 2077, in the sense that everything will be adjustable including skin colour, ethnicity, weight, height, body dimensions, hair, and other details.  The avatar, which may come in the form of a metaverse NFT, will represent you in the virtual-space and is created solely by you. As the virtual-world reflects real-life details, there will most likely be endless opportunities to purchase different styles and customizations for the avatars.

Security for logging in to the Metaverse will need to be top quality, which could involve password, fingerprint, and retina recognition. This is to ensure that the avatars are being logged into with their respective owners.

Its effect on how we currently live

Zuckerberg explained the hologramming of everyday activities and objects we interact with, that will take place in the metaverse. You’ll be able to teleport anywhere, skipping the transport phase that the majority of the population have to go through in the real-world. Being able to be in different places instantaneously means less time is spent on intermediary processes. You want to go to a club then teleport home, or maybe you're at the office and want to skip past the mall for food, this is the proposal being offered with the metaverse. Hardware will be very minimal, as the metaverse is a virtual-world, objects that we interact with will be holograms created by digital designers. 

This is the vision Zuckerberg has for Meta, creating a fully-interactive environment that anyone can use and move around in freely. However this is all a based theory that could end up not gaining mass adoption across the world, it depends on how it's executed and what it offers. Gaming is a large industry that the majority interact with everyday, but the metaverse won't just benefit this group of people. Allowing friends to connect instantly in-person across the world is a revolutionary form of communication that can help a huge range of people.

It’s a thought, one that has been hypothesized for many years but has only just been picked up worldwide in the last decade. Everyone will have a way of interacting in the metaverse somehow, predominantly gamers as the possibilities available with virtual-gaming on a scalable level are massive. Being able to play with your friends and people from different countries in the actual game world is something that has very much only been seen in movies. There are VR games currently offering multiplayer services but not to the extent that the metaverse presents.

Of course there will always be an entry barrier for the metaverse as it requires hardware that needs to be charged and connected to via the internet, three different expenses from the get-go. There are plenty within the world who don't have the necessary financial and personal resources to acquire these hardware pieces so the metaverse barrier to entry will be higher for some, than it will for others. It hasn’t been mentioned whether there will be public terminals for people to access the metaverse with yet, as it was something only spoken about in the original metaverse-inspired novels. 

There is also the fact that not everyone likes the way the world is advancing digitally as real-interaction has dwindled since the release of the internet and string of social and gaming platforms that followed. There will inevitably be a group of society that won’t accept the metaverse for what it is, and who knows what problems that will create itself for the government and people immersing themselves. As everyone has seen during the pandemic, loneliness is something many people suffer from which could potentially be ridded of in the metaverse. 

Just like you and your friends used to hangout at the movies, or at the pub, virtual-reality could allow people to do that in a time where interaction is limited. Although real-touch is irreplaceable, it could definitely become valid in the metaverse through actuators that trigger pressure where applied. This allows people to feel touch in games or open environments, which seems to be where the virtual-space is headed with Meta, but this is merely a thought.

Will it be the evolution of how we work?

The pandemic has made work-from-home jobs prosperous and now employees in 9-5 jobs as well as some trades are seeking employment in industries that allow this type of work. Remote work allows people to earn money at their house, doing the same stuff of course but transportation and public interaction is minimised, and due to the pandemic being the cause for this, businesses that had public-interacted employment have suffered from either closure or greatly reduced customers. It is more secure for the business if the employees are working from home, in case of events that affect these interactions. 

The metaverse could take working from home to the next level by being able to still include the interactions people had with their previous employers or customers. It could revolutionize business communication, through virtual interviews, meetings, offerings, of which can be done virtually instead. Google Meet is an example of how metaverse can improve this type of communication, as it is done via a video call like we’ve seen with Skype, FaceTime, and Messenger, the metaverse will allow conferencing and interactions in business environments to be done as if your sitting right next to your colleagues. 

As objects in the metaverse will be hologrammed, presentations and files that you create using Google Docs for example can be transferred in-person within the metaverse for people to see it instantly and together in whatever virtual-space they are in. With current software applications that make business proposals easily accessible, it would be far more interactive and simpler if we could present these in a virtual environment where everyone applicable can see it in first-person. 

More time can be spent with family and friends or just relaxing after a day of work, without spending hours for some to just get back home. Skipping the commute is very appealing to employees but employers have lingering concerns about whether productivity will be kept to its business standard if people are in a remote environment. Time monitoring and quality are other sceptical topics hindering their choice to allow fully remote work.

Aside from the worker side, businesses in general will be able to benefit greatly from setting up shop in the metaverse. Many opportunities for businesses to gain worldwide customers in a virtual first-person world will be available, allowing revenue to still be made during events or even to interact with international customers from a commerce perspective. You could walk into stores and purchase products virtually instead of online through a click and pay website, of which will be sent to your home in real-time. Essentially it takes interaction between customers and sellers to a far more advanced level that is more enjoyable than a 2D website. Content and Product producers can also sell their inventories to customers across the world, allowing the opportunity for small businesses to gain large audiences.

Gaming and entertainment industries will most likely be the most prominent in the metaverse as it allows people to play with their friends as if they were next to each other in real life. It could become a mirrored realism that people could interact within if it's too costly or can’t be done outside. In-game items, accessories and modifications to your avatars will definitely be incorporated, along with storylines for the characters you create, so games like Fallout where you begin as a baby could take realism to a whole new level.

Digital advertising will be a huge factor of the metaverse, as there will be a huge amount of people susceptible to the virtual world and the new concepts that arise; a prime chance to place ads in innovative ways, with maximum engagement of the user similar to that of a first day at school as a child. The metaverse will most likely contain a range of modern cities and rural landscapes as the audience contain different traits and imaginations, so there definitely won’t be a lack of content if Meta delivers the concept how they intend to. 

Ads that are seen when watching YouTube or on Facebook shouldn’t be seen in the metaverse, meaning non-forced ads like Time-Square billboards on buildings within the virtual world. This will better create a mirror image of reality, rather than forcing ads just on general entrance into the world, as it would be questionable but expected from a social media oriented company like Meta (Facebook).
The possibilities for workforces and industries as a whole are endless with the creation of the metaverse. If it was to undergo mass adoption, the interaction between people would be easier, more enjoyable, effective, and more productive, especially in times like these.

What does the End-goal look like?

Now, it can definitely be said that we are all eager to see this proposal in action but as it was mentioned, the metaverse is still a decade or two away from releasing initial stages. There are many factors that need to be considered when creating a fully-interactive world where there is essentially no boundary in terms of freedom, which could change at any time. Its clear to see that prominent companies like Meta, Microsoft, Nike, Amazon, and Epic Games to name a few are committed and willing to expend up to billions of dollars to bring it to the public. 

Gamers, workers, and content creators are among the people that could see huge benefits with the concept, but there is of course a long road ahead before we as users can begin to live, work, and play with our friends or general public in one huge virtual universe. There are many governance, privacy, and security concerns around how the metaverse will function and ensure the safety of its users, being discussed among companies contributing to the creation of the universe. 

As we’ve seen technology evolve at an exponential rate in the last few decades, we could expect the metaverse to arrive at any point in the coming years but the question is:

are we as a population ready for this change in our everyday activities we’ve been experiencing since the beginning of time.

XFLOKIVERSE, Unreal Engine, and the Metaverse

The metaverse meaning has migrated significantly since the first mention of the virtual-space by Stephenson. With Meta bringing a broader view on the proposition, many crypto gaming projects have started to add metaverse implementations into their roadmap. XFLOKIVERSE, derived from XFLOKI coin, will be our ecosystem offering a product suite, incorporating several developments in the future including an interoperable metaverse platform, with an NFT marketplace, crypto dashboard, and most notably - the game itself.

As our whitepaper entails; the opportunities available once the metaverse is brought to life are expansive. Our project can benefit significantly by giving users the ability to grow their NFTs and customize their universe in a virtual environment, as well as buy, sell, and trade items on a marketplace in first-person. This is what we aim to achieve as crypto is adopted, and the metaverse is progressed in the future.

There are many crypto-gaming projects with metaverse aspirations, but we are rapidly developing our proposition to be the first implementer with a complete game. We have released sneak peeks of XFLOKIVERSE, and are building the foundation on the Unreal Engine - a highly recognised game engine developed by Epic Games. If investors or players wish to buy floki crypto, there are currently 3 tokens that each have distinct utilities within the game: $XFLOKI, $XFLOKIs, and $XFLOKIVERSE. If you're just getting started in crypto-gaming, then this project may be for you, with many releases coming soon that will merge the two industries, and platform optimization that hasn’t been seen before. 

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