If you have heard rumblings from a friend or read an article in the news recently that spoke to “buying decentralized, virtual real estate” or “exploring the metaverse”, but you don’t quite understand what that means or how to try it out yourself, you are not alone. Decentralized Virtual Worlds are a complicated concept that has recently gained popularity. Advancements in virtual gaming and the blockchain/cryptocurrency spaces have made this dream start to take form.
Virtual Worlds And The Metaverse
New technologies tend to get introduced into people’s vocabulary before they are well understood. This was the case with cryptocurrency, the internet and almost all new tech. As more and more individuals talk loosely about the concept, they start to merge into one understandable idea. “Then we live our lives within that thing forever. Remember hearing about “the internet”? Get ready for “the metaverse.”” – New York Times
Decentralized virtual worlds (DVWs) are a large part of the metaverse. Using the metaverse as a lens to aid in your understanding of DVW’s should help accelerate that process. The “metaverse” is used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet. This iteration is made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his book “Snow Crash” in 1992. Those in the technology community have been imagining it ever since. Although the full vision for the Metaverse remains hard to define and decades away, pieces have started to feel very real.
The biggest difference between “the metaverse” and decentralized virtual worlds is decentralization. This means there is no one central group of people that control what you can do or say in the world. There is no trusted third party of humans governing what goes on in these spaces. An example of the metaverse is Fortnite. However, in Fortnite, there is a group who does control what you can do and say, and that group is called “Epic Games”. They can choose to kick anyone off the platform as they choose, and they control every aspect of what you can see in the game. This is not the case in DVW’s.
What’s Out There
One of the most confusing things about this space is figuring out what you can interact with. A quick search on Google brings up a few things in this space but nothing too comprehensive. The easiest way I have found to follow the DVW space is by following Coingecko’s Metaverse Coin Tracker.
Decentraland has long been the torch bearers for this space and are the reason you may have heard about someone buying a piece of virtual real estate in a decentralized AR universe with a currency called “MANA”. For anyone that is still trying to wrap their head around what Bitcoin is, this one will really throw you for a loop.
To really understand what this space is all about, you must jump in with both feet and start to try out these worlds for yourself. Sign up, walk around, do something fun, buy a cheap piece of real estate. Read on to learn how to take a weekend and explore a real decentralized virtual world.
How to Join A Decentralized Virtual World
There are too many DVW’s on this list to go through all of them in this article, so we will start with the most popular one (Decentraland) and let readers explore the rest for themselves. Here is the process I follow often to keep up to date on this space:
- Visit Coingecko’s Metaverse Coin List
- Visit the homepage of a coin that you haven’t interacted with yet
- Join the Discord community
- Click “Start Exploring” on Google Chrome Browser with Meta Mask enabled
- Click “Play As Guest”
- Define your avatar’s style:
7. Answer a couple of questions:
What This Means for the Future of Crypto
One of the most important things to realize about DVW’s is that they do not fall to one of the most common downsides to using cryptocurrency which is: not having anywhere to use it. Within a place like Decentraland, there is a cryptocurrency at play but there is also an entire world where you can use the currency to buy goods and services. Take this building here called “The Hectic Eclectic Collectic” which is a modern art gallery for pieces of digital artwork.
If you wanted to buy this house or a piece of artwork from inside of it, you can walk in and see if you are able to do that with the owner by offering up some Mana for example.
As adoption of these networks grows by the likes of gen-z and anyone younger, the argument of not having anywhere to spend these cryptocurrencies will hold less and less water. NFTs make more sense and their utility is enhanced in these settings as well. There is a long way to go but the future is very bright for this space and it will have profound impacts on how digital currencies are looked at and how their utility is valued.
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