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The Virtual Rabbit Hole: Jumping into the Metaverse
Sid Mukherjee · 01.06.2022

One of this year’s most popular buzzwords is “metaverse,” earlier mentioned by key industry bigwigs who know a thing or three about technology—that guy who created Facebook (we believe his name is Mark), and Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. For most of us who may have heard it the first time, the word “metaverse” might’ve inspired feelings of perplexity, vagueness, or even confusion, because to be totally honest, we have a lot of questions, like—what exactly is a metaverse, are we about to live inside a videogame(!?), and, to quote Gerri from the critically acclaimed HBO drama Succession: how will it further serve our interests as we go through our daily lives?


Trying to explain the true core and exact meaning of the metaverse may be an arduous task. Good folks from Wired Magazine provided an exercise that may help readers get a sense of how broad and complex the term “metaverse” is: mentally replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace.” Still confused because of the similarities? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

 

Welcome to an even more Virtual World


In an attempt to simplify, USA Today defined the metaverse as “a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, and video, where users ‘live’ within a digital universe[1].” Its sudden popularity is not a surprise—almost inevitable—as the current state of today’s digital world requires connection, personalization, virtual collaboration, and constant innovation.

In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of digital technologies that tie real-life experiences with anything virtual. Nowadays, the metaverse’s vision of a “more centralized virtual world” is no longer an idea floating around. We’ve been seeing it unfold—little by little—as time goes by, from video games that blur the lines between real life and fantasy (Animal Crossing, Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox, just to name a few), to Mark Zuckerberg rebranding Facebook to Meta, to an Oculus headset helping Paul Tomlinson work better through a virtual workspace environment. True enough, the metaverse fits like a glove in today’s extremely online and virtual atmosphere: where everything can be done, consumed, and purchased in real time, and where real-life personas can be created and enhanced through virtual reality—all with a click of a button.

 

Virtual Today, Immersive Experiences Tomorrow

 

Now that we have a brief overview of what the metaverse is, what’s next? With Meta taking the first giant leap towards the metaverse, it becomes almost mandatory for other companies to follow suit and see how far the (virtual) rabbit hole goes. Gaining competitive advantage, after all, means taking intelligent risks while the iron is hot. At present, brands are testing out virtual collaborations to create immersive experiences—luxury beauty brand Givenchy recently collaborated with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, offering exclusive makeup designs to players. NARS, a famous makeup brand, jumpstarted their quest into the metaverse by teaming up with social media app Zepeto!, where users can create customized 3D animated versions of themselves.

In recent times, we’ve all become witnesses to tech trends fizzling out. However, it seems like the metaverse is beginning to plant its feet firmly on the ground—and we’re just about to see how far and how wide it will take us. Currently, we’re seeing a glimpse of a few things that are coming out of the metaverse: a “parallel universe” creating the possibility of a virtual space where one can live, work, build, buy, play, and connect with others. TIME Magazine summed up how the metaverse can be promising—it allows an environment where digital meets our physical lives in “wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping, and entertainment[2].”

As we head into a new world where digital simulations, VR experiences, and AR programs could be a big part of our daily lives, the metaverse could be key to unlocking simpler, faster, and safer possibilities that can—hopefully—be put into good use, and take us all ahead.[1] Mike Snider and Brett Molina, “Everyone wants to own the metaverse including Facebook. But what exactly is it?” USA Today, November 2021

[2] Peter Allen Clark, “The Metaverse has Already Arrived. Here’s What that Actually Means” TIME Magazine, November 15, 2021

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