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GamesBeat and Subspace banded together to create the Metaverse Forum some weeks ago, and we got about 60 people from the industry to join our thought-leadership forum. And today is the first public notice about what we’ve been up to. I queried the forum about how they define the metaverse and how they explain it to others.
In my stories, I’ve been saying the metaverse is the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
I’ve ordered this list of definitions in the order I received them. If you’d like to join the forum, send me your definition too. And fyi, I’m thinking about doing a meetup for the group at the Game Developers Conference, and am looking for a sponsor and a venue. If you’re interested in that, ping me @deantak on Twitter. Tony Parisi hasn’t joined yet but he defined it as the spatial internet. I like that.
In my own speech at our GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 2 event in January, I defined it as follows: “The metaverse is a shared, persistent, real-time and social online space that has its own economy and feels like you’re inside an immersive and interconnected world. And it’s not just one world, it’s a whole collection of them.”
I’ve listed the definitions of the metaverse below. If you have a favorite, please say so in the comments or on social. Noteworthy: No one came up with the same definition.
Without further ado, here are the definitions we received for defining the metaverse:
The Metaverse is a myriad of virtual worlds and digital universes that you can access through an Avatar, a 3D representation of yourself, to engage into more social, rich and immersive experiences.
Virtual worlds existed for 25 years already, but you cannot transfer your Avatar from Second Life to Roblox or Minecraft or Fortnite or Facebook/Meta, so the main difference of the Metaverse versus a centralized virtual world is the true ownership by users of their identity, their digital goods and assets and their currency. This is made possible thanks to a technology: blockchain and NFTs.
In the Metaverse, you can access many activities as in real life except they are more fun, immersive and social: shows, virtual concerts, games, social places, dance clubs, art galleries, museums and of course games. The Metaverse is a place of culture and lifestyle, globally connected with both UGC and Brands from both physical world and web3 world
Your time and contribution is valued as you participate in building the Metaverse as a Creator or spending time in it as User. All the value should be going primarily to the users and not the platforms. This value enables the birth of a digital economy and millions of jobs.
– Sebastien Borget, cofounder The Sandbox
The metaverse is ultimately what we make of it, but I see it as a shared 3D online space grounded in the principles of openness and interoperability. The metaverse is not one thing or one place, but the collection of experiences that are able to interact with each other in a complementary way that comprise the metaverse. It’s not Sandbox or Decentraland or Axie Infinity, but it is the sum total of all of them, as well as any newcomers who adhere to the same principles of building on open and composable assets and interoperability.
– Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands
The metaverse is the internet built by game developers.
– Ryan Gill, CEO of Crucible
For me the bar to actually start calling it “the metaverse” is the moment when I can seamlessly transition between e.g. a business and an entertainment/social XR experience and can move my identity and property across these applications. My emphasis here would be that such two experiences need to be of significantly different types – a smooth jump between two games or two business apps in VR does not yet constitute the metaverse. An example would be to have a client meeting in VR in a business application, and then inviting the client on a round of golf where you seamlessly go with them right after the meeting – as easy as walking over to the golf course in the real world.
– Christoph Fleischmann, CEO of Arthur
The term metaverse comes from science fiction and refers to living in a fully digitized world as an alternative, a “plan B” when our corporal world is destroyed. Framing it this way, the metaverse then would be a “fully immersive, virtual reality experience, with high behavioural and visual fidelity. A digital space where people are fully immersed visually, auditorily, and hapticly. This space would be used for entertainment as well as day-to-day activities like socializing, working, and shopping.”
That said, when I am asked to talk about the metaverse I tend to frame it as just another word to encapsulate our digital personas. We have been living our lives online for a while. We have virtual profiles, we can fashion ourselves into prettier, taller, more athletic avatars, we pick the most flattering pictures for social media. Dare I say, the future is now and we are already living in the metaverse.
– Rachel Kowert, research director at Take This
Metaverse is a more comprehensive and transcending state of gaming, where gamers can play the game outside of the traditional silos they understand as gaming universes. The development of the metaverse will include general interfaces that will allow cross-pollination of ideas, mechanics, IP, player-created content, deep social media integration, and more.
– Denis Dyack, CEO of Apocalypse Studios
The Metaverse, in its fully realized state, is an interoperable mesh of permanent and permissionless worlds through which a user can move. In layman’s terms, what this means is that developers and users around the world all work to construct a shared digital space in which users can work, play, and experience a shared digital reality. Right now, there is a fractured network of what I call “miniverses.” As time goes on and development advances, interoperability will increase up until the point that this idealized end state can be realized.
– Jason Brink, Gala Games
The Metaverse: a persistent, live digital universe that affords individuals a sense of agency, social presence, and shared spatial awareness, along with the ability to participate in an extensive virtual economy with profound societal impact.
– Piers Kicks, Bitkraft Ventures
The Metaverse is a digital environment born to be beyond the transactional or the marketable as we expect from the internet. It’s a deeper sensory VR environment created by multiple organizations on multiple platforms to immerse and submerge the user or customer into an experiential digital world via a VR headset. JP Morgan’s bold first mover stake into the services space demonstrates their expectation for people to not only play, work, explore and entertain themselves – but to actually live their lives through services. Their ambitious futuristic vision is likely for everyone to eventually use the metaverse to achieve their daily objectives. From real estate, construction, design, collaboration and entertainment, we are on the edge of the metaverse like we were on the edge of the internet in 1995.
– Caroline Stokes, CEO of Forward
A Metaverse is a series of interconnected digital experiences that simulate the physical world in their appearance, behaviors and mechanics. Within a Metaverse the user can create and consume experiences that are close or even indistinguishable from the real world we live in.
– Doron Nir, CEO of Stream Elements
The metaverse is the next evolution of the Internet – it is more real-time, more 3D, blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. It’s already here.
– Jessica Lindl, vice president of social impact and education at Unity
Metaverse, n. 1. A virtual world containing other virtual worlds. 2. The commingling of virtual objects and worlds with reality.
– Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games
That which, once we have it, everyone will call the metaverse. Actually, given there’ll only be one of it, it should be ‘the Metaverse’ rather than ‘the metaverse’. Mind you, that’s coming from someone who still calls it ‘the Internet’. Proper nouns are proper nouns, for goodness’ sake! Get off my lawn, youngsters! It’s like reality except digital and worse. It will happen, but when it does it won’t be like people currently imagine it will be.
– Richard Bartle, professor at the University of Essex
The Metaverse refers to the unification of the physical and digital worlds. This will create an entirely new platform to build next generation, interactive 3D experiences. It’s coming ends the separation of online and offline as separate dimensions and ushers in an onlife world where identity, commerce, media, payments, and creation tools will see radical changes. The next phase of the internet is a spatial internet and the Metaverse is its theory of everything.
– Ryan Mullins, CEO of Onlife, maker of Aglet
The Metaverse: A combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality video, and audio where users “live” or interact within a digital universe. Some people describe the metaverse as a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other people. The metaverse is considered by some to be the next iteration of the internet, supporting persistent online 3D virtual environments. Metaverses, in some limited form, are already present on platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, Second Life, as well as chat and communication services.
We will see elements of the Metaverse more and more commonly in games, virtual worlds, and digital services, including communications and community platforms. There will not be one universal Metaverse tying everyone and every community together, ever, I think, but we will see. There will certainly be full blown virtual worlds that are very meta and very universe – more like Ready Play One. But it will not be unified, domineering, or over-arching. It will still be an enhancement and part-time alternative to the “real world.”
– Mike Vorhaus, CEO of Vorhaus Advisors
Imagine digital locations and hubs where real people with their digital egos called avatars meet up to do all kinds of things together like talk, trade, play, work and even have cyber sex they also own space, outfits, skills to move around in the world and have different access levels to other apps like games, work related apps, banking, socializing or you name it. Its is likely that multiple locations are connected to each other and in the end this is what the internet will be known as or if you want call it the metaverse. The main difference to today will be the interconnectivity, all will be in either experienced with headsets or direct plugins into your brain for full immersion like you would travel the matrix.
– Hendrik Lesser, founder of Remote Control Productions
The metaverse will be an open-world environment in which users can interact in an unstructured, non-linear basis, as in the real world, and in which users may engage in commerce individually or as part of business organizations formed in the metaverse (including surrogates of real-world businesses). The metaverse will be open and decentralized and have no “rules,” but groups of metaverse residents may form communities and determine how those communities will be governed. As an open platform, there will be no centralized currency. The most common medium of exchange is likely to be real-world crypto, at least initially, but over time it is reasonable to expect that in-world currencies will evolve, with no real-world connection. Similarly, NFTs are likely to play a significant role in metaverse economies, most fundamentally for recording ownership and transfers of assets within the metaverse, but for a myriad of other purposes as well. Initially it is likely that the incumbent Web 2.0 platforms will play a key role in developing the metaverse and bringing it to the mainstream, but over time their respective “walled gardens” within the metaverse will lose relevance and attract fewer and fewer visitors.
– David Hoppe, managing partner at Gamma Law
The metaverse is a network of digital spaces where individuals enjoy a new existence through identity, social relationships and ownership of digital assets.
– Benjamin Charbit, CEO of Darewise
The metaverse transcends the internet of today – converting it into a 3D digital society free of physical impediments. It necessitates four advances: digital ownership to enable a creator-centric economy, the democratization of 3D content creation to enrich a virtual reality, a quantum leap beyond silicon to power the infrastructure, and a “United Nations for the metaverse” to unify the codes of conduct for digital civility. Rooted in these, the metaverse will flourish.
– Tiffany Xingyu Wang, president of the Oasis Consortium
The metaverse will be a persistent realtime simulation that bridges physical reality with augmented and virtual realities. To seamlessly bridge these planes of reality it must be dynamic (not precompiled) and mirror the physical experience of a shardless world.
This definition will be a challenge for many as it will take a complete rethink of technology to make that happen including browsers, identity, avatar engines and network server architecture.
– Sean Mann, CEO of RP1
The Metaverse is a series of simulated, alternative worlds, that let you play, work, or just hang out with friends and digital characters. We currently have early Metaverses operating as a community of discrete instances, and I think we’ll continue to see audience-specific versions for a while to come. I don’t think graphics are as important to people as how engaging these Metaverses are, how accessible they are, how alive they seem, and how the flow of play works for them.
– Jamil Moledina, CEO of Hexagram
We define the metaverse as an expansive and open space that propels our digital experience as we know it. The facilitation of this emerging technology permits people from across the world to openly connect, boldly create, freely share, and truly embrace newfound freedoms in ways we’ve never really been able to before. Since the metaverse is, by nature, open to all, it opens the portal of opportunity for anyone and everyone to explore 2D and 3D space in entirely new ways. Digital assets, for the first time ever, can now be treated very similarly to physical assets, allowing for new experiences, ideas, creations, and freedom.
– Nicolas Gilot, co-CEO of Ultra.io