• Dean Anthony Gratton

To The Metaverse and Beyond

I might need your imagination here so please bear with me: I’d like you to think in a voiceover man-style – you know, that deep, vibrating and husky voice-artist man, who typically introduces the beginning of most thriller movies and says aloud, “In a world…”


Now, when we talk about the metaverse, what world are we really talking about?


Let me explain…

What super-hero would you want to be?

Firstly, the term, ‘metaverse’ was penned by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash,’ where he used the phrase to describe a virtual world. In his book, the metaverse was described as a virtual reality (VR) world or a virtual space, inhabited by people who would use a VR-headset to access it. Inhabitants of the VR world would adopt an avatar – a bespoke character, of sorts, that would allow individuals to interact with each other and do everyday things. To be honest, this is pretty much where we are today: Yes, the Metaverse is about a virtual world that’s holistically digital and that physically doesn’t exist. It’s indeed one where VR-wearing users can fain the illusion that it might be real.


I suppose the most notable reality of the metaverse has been generated through gaming scenarios, where you can enter a disruptive and, on occasions, a very disturbed world. It affords its players that sense of a ‘super-hero’ stereotype, where you might save the captured fugitive or even the entire world from the monsters that lurk within.


Building a new kind of advertising model

I remember when Doom and Quake, for example, my favourite games of the 1990s, were the superior point-of-view (PoV) shoot-them-ups. I recall how I’d always enter the virtual arena to combat other online team players with the expectation of having a rich and graphically intense experience. I would enter a world of demons, monsters and other nefarious creatures that I would exterminate with my impressive array of virtual arsenal. In fact, I still do this today with the more modern Doom Eternal – keeping the joy of exterminating those ghastly demons – we can’t let them win, right?


Anyhow, from a more practical perspective, we have Google Street view, which has the ability to transport us anywhere across the world and virtually stand on the streets of New York, for example. The technology also allows us to take a 360-degree tour of the city without leaving your armchair. With this in mind and looking to the potential of today’s metaverse, Google Street view could open up a new kind of advertising opportunity - not just for Google themselves, but for those retailers, restaurants and bars that have been recorded by the intrepid Google videographer.


A virtual and fully immersive experience

The fact that you can virtually walk down a street via Google and enter various retailer shops and other places, demonstrates how businesses in the areas covered have every opportunity to virtually sell their products and services. I suppose the next level for Google Street view is the ability of its users to be able to interact with each other as they walk around streets, shops, restaurants and business, keeping it all ‘Stephensononian’ and, in turn, building and sustaining a social and virtual community offering that sense of ‘being there’.

With the advancement of both software and hardware components means a far more immersive experience for the consumer that is continually evolving.

Today’s technology, coupled with the advancement of both software and hardware components means a far more immersive experience for the consumer that is continually evolving. VR-enabled headsets, for example, can not only visually and auditorily plunge you into virtual spaces, but are beginning to offer the ability to incorporate other rudimentary human senses. Imagine, for example, a tactile, and olfactory rich environment that fools your senses into believing that you are actually there – seeing, hearing, touching and even smelling. It’s enough to generate, at the very least goose-bumps, if not a spine-tingling sense of presence.


Until next time…

I’ve read how some have suggested that the metaverse is the new internet and, I’m afraid, for me, that’s certainly not the case. Sadly, I don’t agree with that philosophy. Rather, the metaverse actually needs the internet as a transport platform for these virtual worlds to exist whether it is here or over there. I dare say, we need to be somewhat more creative. What’s more, the metaverse as notion isn’t really new and many of us have experienced such virtual worlds in other domains. With this in mind, I can’t help but wonder, what is beyond the metaverse, what’s next and, what are we ultimately looking to achieve?


So, this is where ‘a demon-bashing’ Dr G signs off.

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a technology influencer, analyst & futurist 

I dispel the rumours, gossip and hype surrounding new technology