Silicon Valley is talking about the ‘metaverse’. This means that we will spend much of our lives in a digital environment. Horror or future music? You can try it now.
We will be working, learning, playing, attending events and hanging out in virtual environments, said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The interconnected set of those digital movements is called the metaverse or the metaverse. Software giant Microsoft, gaming platform Roblox, and graphics chip maker Nvidia are also talking about the metaverse.
With a virtual reality headset, you can experience the metaverse very deeply. That really gives the feeling that you are immersed in a digital space, possibly together with others. But headphones are not always necessary. You can visit Roblox on regular laptops and smartphones.
If possible, even more modern are the ‘blockchain worlds’. In those virtual worlds you can buy all kinds of gadgets, including ‘virtual terrain’. These digital objects are recorded in a chain of blocks, a kind of database that is stored on computers around the world. This makes it possible to trade your digital assets as ‘non-fungible tokens’, NFTs.
You don’t need a heavy gaming computer or console to enter the metaverse. There are virtual reality headsets that are ‘independent’.
‘Non-fungible’ means that the records are unique. Some auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s sell some NFTs as great works of art for millions. Even if you have no intention of giving money to NFTs, you can still wander around in virtual environments that are entirely dedicated to this new culture.
A true metaverse assumes that you can freely travel from Roblox to a virtual world of Meta and then to Microsoft, taking your digital assets with you. That presupposes agreements that are not yet there. But you can experiment with the pieces that are already there.
Do I need a heavy computer or game console?
New. There are virtual reality headsets that are ‘independent’. You need to download an app on your smartphone.
The Quest 2 dominates the consumer market. That device is from Meta. For 349 euros you get 128 GB of storage, for 449 euros 256 GB. This has its advantages if you want to store large games on the headset. The resolution of 3664 x 1920 pixels is much better than the predecessor.
At this point, you need a Facebook account to use Quest, though that may change in the future. The device can be used from the age of 13, but you would do well to supervise young teens.
What can I do with the headphones?
There are already quite a few apps in the Quest store. If that’s not enough, you can also download apps at SideQuest (sidequestvr.com). Something hidden in the headphones is also the App Lab. It offers apps that are not yet approved for the official store, but that you can already try. Next, you need to know the exact name of the app.
So what kind of apps are there?
There are, of course, games. A beginning metaverse is morally obligated to play ‘Beat Saber’, an early hit. That means you better chop lightsabers to the beat of all sorts of music tracks. You can play shooter games with ‘Onward’, work out with FitXR, go to events on Horizon Venues. Some apps are free, often you have to pay.
There are, of course, games in the metaverse. You can play shooter games with ‘Onward’, work out with FitXR, or attend events at Horizon Venues. Some apps are free, often you have to pay.
There is also, not unimportant to the metaverse, something called ‘social VR’. VRChat is the favorite in this. It is a busy universe with numerous ‘rooms’, each with its own style. It’s kind of the wild west of the metaverse. Rec Room is another popular social platform and can be accessed on headsets as well as smartphones, computers, and consoles.
If you want to taste the office of the future, Horizon Workrooms and Glue allow you to meet with colleagues in an office environment.
Those blockchain worlds, what should I imagine?
The metaverse is partly owned by large centralized companies like Meta. However, there are also organizations where users own at least part of the virtual world. You don’t need a headset for this.
Which one can I visit with the least possible technical problem?
Play.decentraland.org gives you access to Decentraland, a 3D world with fairly simple graphics that you can access through your browser. You can explore the world as a guest or use a crypto wallet. For the latter, many users use MetaMask, which is a browser extension and mobile app. Even if there are no crypto coins in your wallet, you can still log in with them.
What can I do in Decentraland?
You can visit a virtual branch of Sotheby’s auction house, chat with other visitors, view and possibly buy NFTs, visit a casino, or play simple games.
What other worlds are there?
A similar world is Cryptovoxels.com. Perhaps the Francisco Carolinum, an Austrian art museum, has an interesting exhibition there. Sandbox is another blockchain game world that is home to several major brands, including the Belgian Smurfs. That world is still in a testing phase and will only be open during certain periods at the moment.