What Is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a hypothetical future version of the internet built around immersive virtual worlds, virtual reality, and augmented reality. It isn’t here yet, but the concept is that it will allow people to work, play, converse, learn, shop, and more through a unified virtual experience.


Big tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, gaming companies like Epic Games, and even big brands like Nike and retailers like Walmart are all vying to control the development of the Metaverse or tap into valuable virtual markets. Facebook even famously renamed itself Meta specifically to signal its focus on the development of the coming Metaverse.



What Does Metaverse Mean?

Metaverse is a portmanteau of the words meta and universe and was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snowcrash. In that book, the term referred to an immersive virtual world that was accessed via goggles, where people were represented by customized avatars and interacted in a realistic virtual space.


Outside the realm of science fiction, the real Metaverse is a potential evolution of the internet that people would access via VR headsets, augmented reality, and more conventional systems like personal computers and phones.


Unlike the social-based web2, or even the hypothetical decentralized web3, where the internet is experienced through websites and facilitates communication through services like Zoom and Discord, the Metaverse would be based around an immersive virtual world or worlds where users are represented by custom avatars .



What Can You Do in the Metaverse?

The central concept of the Metaverse is that it will allow you to dive into a digital world with the help of a VR headset, interact with friends and strangers, enjoy virtual experiences like games, learn new things, shop for both physical and virtual items, and do just about everything else you currently use the internet for.


The idea is that the Metaverse will consist of a massive network of interactive 3D worlds and you will be able to move freely between these worlds for work, play, and everything in between.



Can You Experience the Metaverse Today?

The Metaverse isn’t here yet, but a lot of the pieces do exist in various forms. Some companies have even started to describe their products as metaverses.


For example, Epic has referred to their battle royale game Fortnite as a metaverse, because it allows users to interact via virtual avatars, has featured crossovers with big media properties, and even hosted virtual concerts and other events. Epic has also partnered with Lego to build a kid-safe metaverse.


VR Chat is another game that provides a window on what it might feel like to navigate the Metaverse in the future. It’s a game where users are represented by custom virtual avatars, can explore various virtual worlds, and interact with each other through VR headsets or via a less immersive PC experience.


Other games like Rec Room and Facebook’s Horizon Worlds provide similar experiences that allow you to interact, socialize, and play games with other people through a VR interface.



How Does the Metaverse Relate to VR Headsets and the Oculus Quest?

Virtual reality is a key aspect of the Metaverse because it facilitates a more immersive experience. While it will likely be possible to interact with the Metaverse through a variety of means, including computers and phones, the experience will be designed around virtual reality and potentially augmented reality.


Companies like Facebook and Microsoft have set themselves up as driving forces behind the development of the Metaverse, and Facebook in particular has a huge stake in virtual reality.


The Oculus Quest, or Meta Quest, doesn’t currently provide access to the Metaverse, and won’t be required to access the Metaverse in the future, but it is an example of the sort of low-cost standalone VR hardware that will make Facebook’s vision of the Metaverse possible.


If you want to experience what it’s like to interact with an immersive virtual world while you’re waiting for the Metaverse to arrive, the Oculus Quest is a good point of entry to the world of virtual reality. It’s a standalone VR headset, which means it doesn’t require an expensive computer to run, and you can use it to check out Facebook’s Horizon Worlds and a variety of other virtual experiences.


FAQ

  • How do I invest in the Metaverse?

    You can invest in metaverse stocks, metaverse cryptocurrencies, metaverse NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or buy metaverse land and property.

  • How do I buy property in the metaverse?

    Purchase virtual real estate through a metaverse platform like The Sandbox or Decentraland. Purchases are made through cryptocurrencies and ownership is logged in a blockchain as a transfer of NFTs.

  • How do I make money in the Metaverse?

    You can design 3D assets for other users, create VR games, organize events with paid tickets, and rent or sell property to make money in the metaverse.

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