Best virtual reality game examples of the metaverse
Virtual Reality Examples: Doesn’t the Metaverse Already Exist?
Haven’t we already achieved that? There is already a network, the internet. The many existing virtual worlds of all kinds exist online if they connect users. Why do we have to start from scratch with a metaverse?
We don’t have to, but we can, or instead, we are on the threshold. The following components, of which we still have a long way to go before they are fully developed, can give rise to a metaverse in the first place:
- Hardware: On the end-user side, for example, VR headsets, mobile devices, and hardware with haptic feedback; on the industrial side, cameras, sensors, and laser technology capture, e.g., movements.
- Networks: persistent, real-time, high-bandwidth connections with hardware for distribution and “delivery” to the end-user.
- Computing power: support and rendering of virtual worlds in a metaverse require computations for graphics and physics of the environments and synchronization, artificial intelligence, and data processing.
- Virtual platforms: Virtual reality in itself requires designs and creation, and constant maintenance.
- Interfaces and standards: For one virtual reality to connect to another, interfaces and standards are required to exchange data.
- Payments: In a metaverse, it must be possible to exchange real currency and fiat money into digital currencies, and payments must flow between platforms.
- Virtual content, services, objects: In a metaverse, things are created that are not tied to any single platform and thus exist independently of an operator or provider. Possessions and properties need to be managed.
- User behavior: The way users, individually and collectively, interact with the platforms and the Metaverse as a whole will influence and shape the Metaverse in the long term.
Virtual Worlds in the Past and Today
Virtual worlds online are almost as old as the internet itself, bringing together multiple users to experience, play or construct something together or against each other.
Their simultaneous existence forms a multiverse with many parallel worlds, but only their connection creates a multiverse.
In the past, however, and even today, the opposite of connection and linkage is more the case: the individual platforms exist virtually as fenced-in gardens that have little or no contact with the outside world, and if they do, it is always under the control of the developers or operators.
MUDs: Multi-User Dungeons
A multi-user dungeon, also called a dimension or domain, is a virtual world that can be explored with other players in real-time and combines role-playing elements with class and level systems and rewards, interaction, and competition between players with interactive stories and chat.
The first variants were purely text-based and required the input of commands; later editions such as EverQuest and Ultima Online presented the world and content graphically.
Habitat was the first graphical multi-user dungeon computer game and thus a precursor to later massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMPORPGs). Lucasfilm Games developed Habitat in 1985 for the Commodore 64, connecting players in a world via the online service Quantum Link, which later became America Online (AOL).
The game was designed for more than 20,000 players but did not get beyond a test phase with 500 participants.
Habitat did not contain the typical role-playing elements. Players could move a character through a two-dimensional world with different regions and interact with other players.
According to player behavior, the developers added new features to Habitat and hosted adventures with tasks.
Quantum Link discontinued Habitat in 1988 because the game required too much bandwidth with only 500 players. Variants emerged later, licensed by Fujitsu, which later bought the technology outright and launched as WorldsAway in 1995.
Habitat lives on to this day in the variants VZones and the Second Kingdom.
Second Life is one of the best-known virtual online worlds. The US company Linden Lab developed Second Life and launched it in 2003. Although Second Life resembles MMORPGs, the developers emphasized that it is not a game:
“Second Life does not confront participants with tasks or battles.”
Users or residents of Second Life create a game character or avatar for themselves and can interact with other avatars, places, and objects. The platform can be co-created by the users.
The virtual currency Linden Dollar is available for trade and services in Second Life and can be exchanged for real currency.
However, Linden Lab controls the virtual currency so that it is hardly possible to skim off profits or make a real profit in real currency.
Minecraft is a sandbox computer game by the Swedish developer studio Mojang. In 2014, Microsoft took over Mojang and Minecraft. In survival mode, players have to compete in the game world alone or with others.
The creative way allows free design and shaping of the game world. Via a mod function, players can change the game mechanics and introduce new items.
Minecraft has won several awards and is considered the most successful computer game of all time.
Players have recreated real and fictional places in Minecraft, and Minecraft’s simulation capabilities are used in education to teach principles of computer science, chemistry, or design.
Fortnite is an online computer game by Epic Games that launched in 2017. The three different game modes include a creative mode that gives players extraordinary freedom to design.
Therefore, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, describes Fortnite as a virtual 3D world that combines computer game elements and free exploration. Epic Games uses the virtual currency V-Bucks to earn money with Fortnite.
This can be used to purchase loot boxes, virtual items, and tickets.
Roblox is an online gaming platform with an integrated construction kit for its games and content using the programming language Lua. The first version was released in 2006, but users only increased several years later.
The Covid-19 pandemic ensured the further rapid growth of the player community.
Roblox itself is free but uses the virtual currency Robux.
Horizon Worlds is a collaborative virtual reality platform from Meta Platforms. The company, which also owns the social network Facebook, is a developer and publisher.
Horizon Worlds uses Oculus headsets to display and navigate a 3D world that can be enriched with user-generated content and locations.
Fictional Virtual Worlds
Futurology deals with the investigation of possible future developments. Time and again, however, fictional works have accurately and ahead of their time described inventions and technical achievements that are a reality today.
The Polish writer and science fiction author Stanislaw Lem, for example, introduced the motif of a spanning network in 1957, which sounds amazingly similar to the internet, and whose beginnings only began a good ten years later.
When such predictions come true, it always happens that the term for the fictional invention or technology is also used for the real thing. Metaverse itself is such a case.
Metaverse in Snow Crash
Snow Crash is a novel by author Neal Stephenson published in 1992 that describes a dystopia in the near future. The Metaverse here is a kind of internet and MMORPG with avatars as virtual characters representing the users.
Neal Stephenson’s Metaverse idea is also said to have inspired the developers of Terravision. The interactive digital globe Terravision by the Berlin agency Art+Com was developed in 1993 with the support of Deutsche Telekom.
The developers envisioned the further development of Terravision as a metaverse, a virtual representation of reality enriched with additional information (augmented reality or AR).
Today, we use this metaverse vision as a matter of course in Google Maps or Google Earth. This allows us to travel the whole world in the form of maps and satellite images and to find out more detailed information about, for example, local shops, including links to opening hours, telephone numbers, and websites.
According to Art+Com, the company Keyhole used the idea and implementation of Terravision for its own product Earth Viewer. Google bought Keyhole and released Earth Viewer in 2001 as Google Earth. However, Art+Com lost to Google in court in a long-running legal battle.
Netflix filmed this story and released it as a miniseries called The Billion Dollar Code.
Oasis in Ready Player One
Ernest Cline published a science fiction novel in 2011 under the title Ready Player One, which describes a metaverse. The central setting of the story is in the virtual reality OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation).
This gives users access to entertainment and games and education and knowledge. With its currency and economic system, people work virtually, children go to school, and illusion replaces dull reality.
Steven Spielberg made the narrative into a film in 2018.
Cyberspace refers to virtual reality or a computer-generated environment. The term is used for the Internet or the World Wide Web in common parlance. However, research distinguishes between hardware or infrastructure, i.e., the network itself, and the location-independent representation, i.e., in the form of the WWW or optical cyberspace.
William Gibson used cyberspace in his 1982 short story Burning Chrome and later in the Neuromancer trilogy. Here he also used the synonymous term matrix.
Gibson did not invent the term cyberspace but coined it and introduced it into pop culture. There were first mentions of it as early as the 1960s. The first use of cyberspace as a term for a computer and communication network in today’s internet is attributed to the author John Perry Barlow.