Open vs Closed Virtual World

We often use the term “metaverse” (singular) as if it refers to a single entity. in reality there is no such thing, at least not yet. Whether we can ever accurately say that there is a single metaverse is the difference between an open metaverse and a closed one.

Author Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”. In his science fiction tome, he described an entirely virtual world that functioned as a parallel society. Since its inception, a wide range of groups have adopted the term “metaverse”, including technologists, Mark Zuckerberg, the crypto community, game developers, and many others.

Earlier this month, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, creator of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, laid out his grand vision for the company. “2022 in Review” Livestream, He told the audience that the gaming giant plans to pull together its various facets, including game development and its film and TV work with Unreal Engine, into “something that moves closer and closer to the metaverse from science fiction.” ”

“Not the dystopian version … but a really positive version where you and your friends come together in a real-time 3D social experience and can explore the whole world.”

There is still no precise definition of what the metaverse is, but it has evolved and narrowed over time. Most users of the term accept that this will be some form of a virtual world – or world. In the Web 3 community, many believe it will include digital assets. nft and cryptocurrencies, and will employ smart contracts to create a trusted, decentralized online space that is not controlled by any one company. However, not everyone is on the same page.

Zuckerberg’s Meta and Horizon World and Epic Games’ Fortnite are two examples of “metaverses” that basically limit the use of digital assets within their own ecosystems. These “metaverses” act as virtual silos, controlled by one organization and preventing access to digital assets outside its borders.

On the other hand, an “open metaverse” would be interconnected and interoperable. Just as any number of websites and services can exist independently on the web, linked to each other. If the choice is between open and closed, the choice is clear, says Lukasz Liem, CEO and founder of Affin. “Closed ecosystems are the creation of Web2, and we are not trying to replicate the tech monopolies that dominate the experience today. Instead, our approach needs to revolve around interoperability and openness, leading to a metaverse.” Ease of movement through the medium.

If a so-called metaverse is closed and proprietor-run, what makes them any different from the multiplayer online worlds that appear before them? Habbo Hotel – a digital version of Hilbert’s Paradox of the Grand Hotel Coming to Life – Its beta version was launched in January 2001. Runescape, the fantasy MMORPG that dominated the mid-naughties, launched the same month. Mazevar, a crude precursor to today’s games, was around as early as 1974 on the ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet.

Any metaverse that fails to link that decades-old model is simply using marketing language to appear cutting edge. In addition to decentralization, a significant part of any future metaverse will be user-generated content. Not unlike today’s internet. “In most current MMORPGs the player does not interact directly with the developers or creators,” continues Liem. “These barriers disappear with an open metaverse, where everyone can be a user, creator, and developer all at once. Effectively, an open metaverse encourages every participant to become a stakeholder. Not just a user who changes consumes without receiving rewards and benefits.

Cross-chain future of the virtual world

However, those chasing the dream of a closed metaverse aren’t always bad actors. According to some, the fact that currently closed metaverses are ideal is simply a result of our technological limitations. “I’m a big believer web3 The community is working towards an open metaverse because this idea truly reflects what the Web3 ethos is all about: permissionless, trustless, and open to all,” said Dr. Sangmin Seo says.

To achieve this vision, there are several improvements that could allow blockchain-based virtual worlds to interact with other platforms. Recently developed solutions that enable blockchains to talk to each other could be used to create a larger, more interconnected online world. heals like “bridges”, Devvaniand solutions that enable cross-chain applications [can] bring us one step closer to that vision, says Dr. Seo.

Also, just because the virtual world is “closed” doesn’t mean it isn’t the metaverse. Projects like Overreality, which implement the infrastructure for Web3 interoperability, prefer to think of them as separate concepts of the same thing. Its CMO and co-founder, Shuqi Ma, says, “The metaverse should be another dimension of the world.” “The metaverse must be the collection of all sub-metaverses where each sub-metaverse is like a city or country in the real world. All sub-metaverses, with full interactivity between each other, are considered by our definition to be the final form of the metaverse.” .

One organization that is trying to pave the way is the Metaverse Standards Forum. Its goal is to bring together as many stakeholders as possible to create a common interoperability standard. Established in June 2022, the group already includes Google, Huawei, Adobe, Intel, Verizon and accounting giant PwC. Even the metas leading the closed metaverse are participating.

The group will focus on a number of areas, including developing consistent terminology and guidelines across technical domains. Over time, the forum hopes to provide hackathons, prototyping, plugfests, and open-source tooling. Its foundation itself is a happy sign. Hopefully any future metaverse will be as open as the Internet was before it. Fingers crossed, the end result will be a unified metaverse (singular, not plural).

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