Updated: Feb 27
Once upon a time, the universe was the universe and the metaverse was a concept reserved only for science fiction and comic books. But times have changed, as they always do, and the metaverse is in the here and now. Those of us who are unfamiliar with this new concept may need a primer on what it means to be in the metaverse. First, let's start with what it is.
Virtual reality, however, is not new. Neither is the internet. In fact, according to Wired magazine, the metaverse doesn't refer to anything specific. It can incorporate virtual reality but it's not yet a Ready Player One-styled world. This vision of the future seems to be the destination, though. Last year, Facebook changed its name to "Meta" and committed to spending billions to build out its version of virtual meeting space. In addition, there are spaces like Topia, which allows companies to switch up their typical Zoom meetings and meet in online spaces. There is also Encore, a first-person shooter video game that allows for the trading of NFTs and the ability to invest in digital assets. Then, of course, there is Pokemon Go, which is a virtual reality game that may soon integrate cryptocurrency into its programming. But at the moment, the metaverse is still in its infancy, and functioning as a meeting place is just the beginning.
During the pandemic and subsequent lock-down, online spaces became even more popular than in previous years. Avatars of Lil Nas X and Ariana Grande (among others) performed online, the former in Roblox and the latter in Fortnite. And, of course, skins for the avatars that they used are available for purchase on the associated platform. That's a big part of the metaverse at this time. Craig Donato, the chief business officer at Roblox believes that this is the future of the medium. He suggested that watching concerts, movies, and the launches of popular fashion lines online will become the norm. Some suspect that virtual real estate may be possible in the future. But at the moment, a lot of the metaverse is in the potential, not the execution.
That doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of space for growth. Opportunities for educators and parents are plentiful as well. Koji is an app that encourages students to learn using interactive virtual lessons that educators can create for them. In addition, students can use Koji tools to build their apps and put their spin on popular games. Large companies like Roblox are also investing in making the metaverse a useful platform for educators and students. They have created a fund designed to help build online learning experiences in K-12 schools. As time passes, we will likely see more companies following suit.
There may be a future in which we'll be able to strap on headsets and disappear into a virtual reality world full of stores, concerts, and other social events that exist solely online. Some of that is possible right now. At the moment, though, it is the occasional virtual concert and items for sale that can be bought with online currency. But that doesn't mean that there isn't an option for learning within these spaces for parents and educators. Using the metaverse, educators can create immersive learning environments for their students. Some large companies are even investing in doing so. There is a lot of potential in this space. It might even be able to assist educators in teaching the next generation how to create the future that we want to see.
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