Open vs Closed Virtual Worlds

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We often use the term “Metaverse” (singulare). Actually, there is no such thing, At least not yet. The difference between an open metaverse and a closed one is whether or not we can accurately say that a single metaverse exists.

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

Earlier this month, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, creator of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, laid out the company’s grand vision. “Annual Review 2022” Livestream. He told the audience that the gaming giant plans to merge its various strands, including game development and its film and TV work, with Unreal Engine, “something that comes closer and closer to the metaverse from science fiction.”

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

There is still no exact definition of what the metaverse is, but it has evolved and narrowed over time. Most users of the term accept that it refers to some sort of virtual world – or worlds. In the Web3 community, many believe that this includes digital assets NFTs and cryptocurrencies, and will use smart contracts to create a trustless, decentralized online space that is not controlled by any single entity. However, not everyone is on the same page.

Zuckerberg’s Meta and Horizon Worlds and Epic Game’s Fortnite are two examples of “metaverses” that fundamentally restrict the use of digital assets within their own ecosystems. These “metaverses” act as virtual silos controlled by an entity and prevent the use of digital assets outside their boundaries.

On the other hand, an “open metaverse” would be interconnected and interoperable. Similar to how many websites and services can be independent on an interconnected Internet. If the options are open and closed, the choice is obvious, says Lucaz Leem, CEO and founder of Affyn. “Closed ecosystems are the fabric of Web2, and we’re not trying to replicate the technology monopolies that dominate today’s experience. Instead, our approach revolves around interoperability and transparency, which facilitates movement through the metaverse.”

If the so-called Metaverses are closed and franchise-driven, what differentiates them from the multiplayer online worlds that came before them? Happo Hotel – Digital Edition Hilbert’s Paradox of the Grand Hotel Come to Life – launched its beta version in January 2001. Runescape, the fantasy MMORPG that dominated the mid-noughties, launched the same month. Mazewar, a crude precursor to today’s games, was around 1974 on ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet.

Any metaverse that fails to add to that decades-old model uses marketing language to appear sophisticated. Besides decentralization, a key part of any future metaverse will be user-generated content. Not like today’s internet. “Players in most existing MMORPGs don’t interact directly with developers or creators,” continues Liem. “These barriers disappear with open metaverses, where everyone can be a user, creator, and developer at the same time. Effectively, an open metaverse encourages every participant to become a stakeholder. Not just the user who uses without receiving rewards and benefits.”

The cross-chain future of the virtual world

However, a closeted Metaverse dream chasers aren’t always bad actors. According to some, the fact that closed metaware is now the norm is a result of our technological limitations. “I believe in big things Web3 The community is working towards an open metaverse as this idea truly reflects what the Web3 protocol is all about: permissionless, trustless and open to all,” says Dr Sangmin Seo, Representative Director of the Klaytn Foundation.

To achieve this vision, there are several revisions that allow a blockchain-based virtual world to interact with other platforms. Recently developed solutions that enable blockchains to talk to each other can be used to create a large, interconnected online world. Amendments to “bridges,” etc Oraclesand solutions that enable cross-chain applications [can] Bring us one step closer to that vision, says Dr. Seo.

Also, just because a virtual world is “closed” doesn’t mean it isn’t a metaverse. Projects like Overeality, which implements the infrastructure for Web3 functionality, prefer to think of them as different concepts of the same thing. “MetaWare is meant to be another dimension of the world,” says its CMO and co-founder Shukyee Ma. “Metaverse should be a collection of all sub-metaverses, where each sub-metaverse is like a city or a country in the real world. All sub-metaverses, with full inter-operability, are considered the ultimate form of metaverse by our definition.

The Metaverse Standards Forum is an organization trying to set a path. Its goal is to create a common interoperability standard by bringing together as many stakeholders as possible. The group, established in June 2022, already includes Google, Huawei, Adobe, Intel, Verizon and accounting firm PwC. Meta, the closed Metaverse predecessor, also participates.

The group will focus on several areas, including developing consistent terminology and guidelines across the technology sector. Over time, the forum hopes to offer hackathons, prototypes, plugfests and open source tools. Its foundation is the only striking sign. The hope is that any future metaverse will be as open as the Internet before it. Fingers crossed, the end result will be a unified metaverse (singular, not plural).


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