By now, the metaverse is not a novel idea. It’s a concept with which most tech-savvy people are already familiar. But what if we told you that the metaverse has existed in some form since long before Meta’s foray into virtual reality and the ‘future of human interaction?’ What if we told you that you’ve likely had experiences within a metaverse without even putting on a set of VR goggles?
The article below will explore the meaning of the term metaverse, as well as the earlier forms within which the metaverse concept has existed.
What is the metaverse?
If you Google the term, you’ll get some trite and hopelessly vague explanations such as ‘the metaverse is a vision of what many in the computer industry believe is the next iteration of the internet.’ Okay, thank you for that, but it means nothing. Over and above the statement’s vagueness, it is in reference to purely Meta’s definition of the term.
In truth, a metaverse is a very simple concept to explain. A metaverse is a virtual space within which users can experience various aspects of life together. This basically amounts to an online game with more than one player that offers its users varied experiences that they might otherwise not have access to. Given that most games follow this fantasy principle, most online games technically fall under the metaverse definition.
The games that predate the Metaverse
For clarification, when we use the term Metaverse, we refer to Meta’s metaverse. When we instead use metaverse in lowercase, we refer to the concept of a metaverse in general.
Roblox is not the oldest game that toys with a metaverse concept, but it is most likely the game that shipped the idea to the widest audience. Roblox doesn’t have one main game mode, as most games do. Instead, it has what the platform refers to as experiences. Each experience is created by users to achieve a particular atmosphere. Roblox hosts quite easily any experience you could think of. Within the space of a few minutes you could go from building a house in a nice suburb to running from terrifying stuffed toys in a horror experience.
Roblox is notable for another reason, though; its social aspect. Every Roblox experience has a social element. Some experiences emphasize the social aspect by making it the entire reason the experience exists. This would be something like a vibe room or a roleplay event where people interact with one another more prominently. However, there are other experiences where the social aspect isn’t really a focal point. With something like an obstacle course players are predominantly focused on progressing with the game and less on communicating with other players. Nevertheless, the social aspect remains one of Roblox’s greatest strengths.
Avakin Life is a life simulator-style game with a massive online multiplayer aspect. The game sees users becoming alternate versions of themselves, and encourages players to communicate, share virtual experiences, and forge virtual bonds with one another. This game is open-ended and functions on a fairly open world setup. This essentially means that you can take on whatever kind of personality you’d like and do almost anything.
The only thing that separates Avakin Life from being a true interpretation of an early metaverse is the lack of in-game currency that retains some measure of value other than purchasing items that your character uses during the game. However, Avakin Life is still a decent place to make friends online and find people with similar interests to you, as long as those interest revolve around playing Avakin Life.
Minecraft is one of the most compelling examples of a game that functions as a metaverse of sorts. The first thing that qualifies Minecraft as a metaverse is the presence of a currency. This currency, albeit only useful in the Marketplace, can be used to buy specific gear for your character to set them apart from others in the game. You also have complete free-reign in terms of how to play the game, and you can determine the experiences that your character has.
Minecraft also has a social aspect in that you can communicate with other players on your server or within your realm.
While there are aspects that push Minecraft very close to the edge of being a metaverse itself, such as the fact that there is only really one world to explore, the game certainly makes a powerful argument for itself. Although, Minecraft does have two other dimensions that you could visit should you become bored with the overworld, which meets another of the criteria for qualifying as a metaverse.
The metaverse is ancient
As you can see, the metaverse is by no means a new concept. There are many games, and have been many more, that meet the criteria in one way or another. While there is nothing quite as metaverse as Meta’s Metaverse, there are numerous platforms where you can experience something similar.