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From Pong to PlayStation 5, the history of gaming is told through innovations. Certainly, graphical prowess and raw horsepower wow us all, but underneath the glittery sheen of ray tracing at 4K/120fps, there is always something more important to every game: how it plays. True innovation comes when the medium itself is pushed forward by mechanics or gameplay scenarios that change and inspire the way people conceive of game design.
Upon the initial release of the PlayStation 5, the launch game dominating the news cycle was a free system pack-in called Astro’s Playroom, a light platformer starring a cute little robot. Why was this piece of software singled out by many in the gaming community as the first real “next gen” experience? Because of a re-imagined controller. Yes, Sony’s DualSense controller was the main piece of tech dropping people’s jaws at the start of this newest console generation because the controller added features that allowed players to become more immersed in the game world in unique ways. Whether it is the introduction of the analog stick, disc-based media, or even touchscreens, innovative tech that determines how we interact with the medium is what pushes the industry forward in leaps and bounds.
All of this raises the question – what’s next? What’s the next big leap? What if we change the very concept of the game world? What if we all enter the Metaverse?
Into the Metaverse
The Metaverse can be understood as a persistent, fully-realized game world. Part virtual reality, part augmented reality, part social network – it is virtually infinite and features full-fledged economies, employment opportunities and, yes, you guessed it, singular gaming scenarios you cannot find anywhere else. The Metaverse grows every day and is one of the most significant technological advancements in the gaming industry in decades. Even now in the days of asynchronous multiplayer and always-online MMORPGs the Metaverse is doing something unique. Not only is the game world persistent, but players within the Metaverse can do things they are unable to do in any other video game. It links real-world commerce and communication with the virtual interfaces for such systems.
What exactly can you do in the Metaverse? You can buy land, form a community, start a business, buy and sell art, and even raise money for real-world charities.
The real-estate market is booming in the Metaverse, with plots of virtual land regularly selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Houses, cities, towns and communities are being founded on that land and an entire new world is being built as we speak. Within that world people obtain gainful employment. For instance, one industrious player started a tour company within a game, taking people around to show them the sights. This virtual entrepreneur charges for this service and makes real money.
In fact, players earn money in a lot of Metaverse games – just by playing. There are countless other earning opportunities and business ventures that players are engaging in, and we’ve only scratched the surface of video game ingenuity and what the desire to earn money while playing games will surely bring to pass.
However, even players that aren’t entrepreneurial in spirit have a recourse to join in this economy. Art enthusiasts and collectors have created an entirely new art market in the Metaverse. You’ve probably heard of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Digital artist Beeple famously sold one earlier this year for $69 million.
NFTs are basically a new way to authenticate digital files and prove ownership of them. People in the Metaverse are mostly using NFTs for decoration at this point, but the market for buying, selling and trading these NFTs is enormous and intricate.
People who buy an NFT can hold it like a traditional collectible, let it accrue value over time, or re-sell it. Going even further, philanthropists are utilizing the Metaverse to raise money for real-world charities. Most games in the Metaverse have their own bespoke forms of currency. Popular Metaverse game Decentraland uses what’s called “MANA.” These in-game currencies have potential real-world value as global cryptocurrencies.
Leveraging new tech into the future
The technology underlying all cryptocurrencies is called “blockchain,” which is a cryptographic system that allows trusted exchanges without the need for a middleman. That means there’s no bank, no developer, and no credit card company taking a cut every time you engage in the game economy.
The integration of blockchain technology with gaming is the secret sauce that is redefining what’s possible in our virtual worlds and creating a whole new industry-within-the-industry. Imagine the end of overpriced, DRM-laden micro-transactions and downloadable content. Purchasing in-game items and owning them unequivocally as living, liquid assets is revolutionary in the current gaming economy.
In the Metaverse, users are in charge – they create the world, interact with it however they want, engage other players in whatever ways they desire, and can control the entire economic infrastructure of their perfectly built corner of the digital world.
The Metaverse brings with it more immersion, more complexity, and granular control over nearly every aspect of the gaming world and user experiences – and this is just the beginning. We’re in on the ground floor, and the future could hold anything for the Metaverse: persistent connections, VR integration, and even augmented reality integration, which melds the real world around us with the virtual world. The Metaverse contains endless possibilities and will likely continue to change the trajectory of the gaming industry in totally new ways.
Corey Cottrell, co-founder of Uplift, was born and raised in the hinterlands of the Canadian North where he discovered a talent and appreciation for music early on that set him on a lifelong path of creativity and self-expression. In addition to working as a professional musician for most of his career, Corey has taken up hobbies in gaming and blockchain technology. Corey first collaborated with Michael Blu in remixing one of his songs and in creating NFT music videos. The pair clicked and their chemistry led to bigger projects, such as the full integration of NFTs and a crypto-based economy into the Uplift World gaming Metaverse.
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