The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar business. With the rise of augmented reality and virtual reality, there has been speculation that this could be the beginning of the metaverse; an online universe where all human experiences take place in one shared space.
Are Video Games a Metaverse?
The metaverse is a new fully immersive vision of the internet. Video games in their current form are active, narrative escapism that take place on a display screen using a computer or game console.
However, games such as Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft are
working toward becoming a metaverse virtual world.
The video game industry is well over 10 billion dollars per year which makes it no surprise people want to know if games can create something similar to what Neal Stephenson envisioned.
One person who shares this sentiment is Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and author of The Art Of Game Design: A Book Of Lenses (Morgan Kaufmann). He believes that with technologies like Google Earth and Microsoft’s Hololens we are already on our way to becoming part of a shared experience.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is an online 3D virtual environment that people can access through VR headsets, smartphones and other devices. Its the next iteration of the internet consisting entirely virtual reality (VR) environments.
Does the Metaverse Exist Now?
Yes, sort of. Let me explain the “sort of” part. Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Axie Infinity are early iterations of the metaverse concept. However, they do not live up to(yet!) the larger more futuristic vision of the metaverse set by top tech influencers.
However, big tech companies, like Meta, Microsoft, and Nvidia are currently pitching the metaverse as an immersive, virtual world that is always on.
Video games like Fortnight or Roblox create simulated realities in open worlds; these games even have their own economies. But the metaverse is not just a simulated reality but rather a futuristic way to merge our tangible life with the Internet.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a simulated environment or experience that can be interacted with using a console, like the Oculus Quest 2 headset. The Quest 2 headset is a 2.5-3 pound pair of goggles with a computer strapped to the front. The headset can track the movement of the user’s hands, or the user can interact with handheld controllers to manipulate elements in the virtual reality environment.
Is Virtual Reality a Metaverse?
If we have virtual reality, then the next question might be if virtual reality video games are the metaverse. Spaces in virtual reality, such as VR Chat Venues, or Horizons are the closest thing we currently have to the ultimate vision of the metaverse.
In VR Chat, players have avatars that they use to interact with various digital spaces like cafes, bars, or dog parks, for example.
Venues is an entertainment in a similar vein as VR Chat with a more specific entertainment purpose. It hosts concerts, movies, lectures, live sports, and more.
Horizon is a collaborative platform in VR.
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How Are Virtual Reality and the Metaverse Different?
Users can interact with virtual reality through various apps or software, such as fitness, meditation, gaming, entertainment, or social experiences. Virtual reality requires bulky equipment and plenty of space and light.
The average user will only interact with virtual reality with their voice and hands, although there is additional setup that will track a user’s entire body for a more immersive experience.
Are video games a metaverse? Well, the metaverse, in contrast to virtual reality, is envisioned to be something more holographic. Ads from Meta show people engaging with the metaverse in public and at home without any bulky equipment. Meta describes a “feeling of presence” that will set the metaverse apart from the internet we know today.
What Will Video Games in the Metaverse be Like?
The way that people interact with video games now is not comparable to the vision of the metaverse; however, there are some virtual reality games that get close.
Envision being inside the video game. You look down at your belt and see your gun holster. You reach behind your shoulder and unsheathe a sword. These are features that already exist in virtual reality games.
When Will We Have Access to the Metaverse?
Like the internet we know today, the metaverse will be a complex infrastructure, and it will take time to develop. Big tech companies are investing billions of dollars into it now.
Based on the buzz and financial investment around the topic now, the metaverse is likely to be a regular part of our cultural lexicon in about a decade.
Video Games and the Metaverse
Video games are a form of active, narrative escapism that take place on a display screen using a computer or game console. They allow us to escape from the real world and enter into an alternate reality where we can be whoever we want and do whatever we like.
The metaverse is about taking this concept one step farther by creating immersive worlds that will provide people with new ways to play and interact with each other online.