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Electric Dreams – A Year in the Metaverse (part 3)

I’m Kelly Vero, creative badass, future-gazer, game developer and general metaverse nerd. I’ve been making games for a long, long time but I’ve always had an eye on the future, where I now work, to drive technology up and out beyond your wildest dreams. This year has been filled with brave new worlds, Tech Bros, loads of cheap talk, crapware and some truly awesome achievements. From virtual land to awks fashion, it’s all here in my four-part review of a year in the Metaverse…

You join us at Part 3 of our look back at 2021. If that’s intentional, or you relish reliving a year out of sync, carry on. Alternatively, you can always catch up on Part 1 (Jan-Mar) and Part 2 (Apr-Jun).

July – On Fyre

After the longest time in lockdown and generally Covid-hell, the world started to open back up again. We said goodbye to a considerable number of metaverse start-ups who realised that everybody would rather have a Fyre festival/Glasto with technical problems than a sunny weekend in front of the PC.

Mark Zuckerberg told us what the metaverse means and everyone in the world was really excited because, finally after reading 4 million articles produced on what-is-the-metaverse, a real person who mums rely on as a single source of truth told us finally what the metaverse means. Mums, grans and gammons everywhere are euphoric. Thank the multiverse!

Coca-Cola auctioned its first NFT, and like the Zuckerberg announcement, loads of brands suddenly think, “Wow we could also do this if the inventor of the Christmas is doing it.”

Everyone’s favourite K-Drama Hotel del Luna is recreated in the metaverse by Zepeto and I scream with happiness. I finally get to go to the afterlife hotel with Lee Joon-gi. Lucky me.

Facebook’s profits top $10 billion as Mark Zuckerberg says the word metaverse ten times in an article, and then appears in front of us like Beetlejuice.

Anheuser-Busch’s Lindsay McInerney with Cathy Hackl start to talk about how the metaverse will work if brands start thinking in 3D. I couldn’t agree more! However, wouldn’t it be nice to think, work, and play in the metaverse as a social participation platform first before it becomes a branded interoperability megastore (or should that be metastore)?

Loads of Tech Bros start having corporate images taken in front of blue and purple lights and screens, making them look like Rick Moranis passed out in Noah’s Arcade.

Virtual outfits start populating the world of digital fashion in the metaverse (no-one is quite sure actually where, though – and, really, who is buying them?) making me think that passing up the opportunity to go on holiday with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to Planet Risa in that episode of next generation was a big mistake. Huge.

Mix Master Mike did a gig, physically, at a venue downtown Los Angeles which was simultaneously being live streamed as a hologram onto a virtual stage in AltSpaceVR. Microsoft was really happy.

August – A Dystopian Nightmare

The metaverse is a very big buzzword, in fact it’s probably an explosive word, so start-ups the world over are adding the word metaverse to their value offerings, making bank. Finally, everyone knows what it means! They know what it means, right?

Infinite Canvas raised $2.8 million for a metaverse to create a group modelled after esports teams. Infinite Canvas is using its stores to connect creators and crafters with all the resources that they need to scale business into the metaverse.

Satya Nadella says something.

Did you know that the metaverse is a portmanteau of meta, meaning transcendent, and verse, meaning from the universe? In a bid to switch up how the metaverse is described, what-is-the-metaverse journalists around the world start looking at Snow Crash and Neuromancer as the only viable gospel and witness to the birth of this brave new world. Ready Player One waits nervously for its moment to shine.

At Zoomtopia in the same month, Zoom announced that it was going to do so much more than just video communication and wanted to bring more collaboration into view with its big metaverse plans. I’m still trying to get my Snap camera to work on Tuesdays inside Zoom. I have no idea why it’s day specific.

South Korea’s Netmarble set up a metaverse company to develop VR idols. 

John Hanke from Niantic/Pokémon GO says that the metaverse is a dystopian nightmare. We all go: Yeah but how do we get the Sunglasses Squirtle?

Ralph Lauren enters the metaverse with the Zepeto partnership and everyone in the fashion industry hails digital t-shirts with massive metallic triangular shoulder pads as the future of fashion.

My mum rings me to tell me that Mark Zuckerberg has launched something called Horizon Workrooms and do I want to do some kind of virtual thing with her? Facebook is dead.

Joytopia / BMW

September – The Metaverse Is Not A Game. The Metaverse Is A Game

China tells investors that investment is not a virtual game and investors buying Chinese stocks hoping to profit from the metaverse would likely end up in tears. This caution against metaverse-linked stocks further isolates China from every single definition of the metaverse involving Snow Crash and Neuromancer. Ready Player One is unavailable for comment.

Epic’s Houseparty, the social video app, announces it will be shutting down from October as it chooses to work on social interactions in the metaverse. Having bought Houseparty for $35 million in 2019, and despite the popularity of the app during the pandemic, Houseparty is swallowed up by the Epic machine. Meanwhile Chatroulette is still going strong.

Blockchain gaming raises its slightly fugly head once again to tell the world that, possibly, if you mine to earn you might also get to play. But only if you have time. And if you have the time, the big 4 might have the gas.

The Sandbox and legendary chef Snoop Dogg go from “tha streets to tha Sandbox” in a cute metaverse crossover. The Baby Got Back Ribs creator owns a mansion in the virtual gaming world. I’m already down for wherever celebrity chef Coolio shows up, I really hope it’s in Warcraft or something like that.

Brands and retail readied themselves to go into the metaverse: but first of all, they must read 20+ articles about what the metaverse is, and then post their detailed report on Linkedin as thought leaders on the subject. What is the metaverse, Doug? Is it Snow Crash or Neuromancer? Answers on a late ’90s gif/flashcard, please.

Cathy Hackl’s amazing Adweek podcast is launched: Metaverse Marketing gives voice to everybody involved in the creation of the metaverse, including me. And it’s awesome – not the me bit but the whole thing.

Retro gamers go absolutely off the end at the very idea that their beloved Neopets would even dream of doing an NFT collaboration, let alone actually implement one; but as the list of life’s inevitabilities grows from death and taxes, to death, taxes and NFTs: here we are.

Fashion once again toys with the idea of going into the metaverse but realises that $10,000 dresses currently weigh around 140GB of data and most metaverse platforms say, “No thanks.”

BMW launches Joytopia. No seriously, it really does. You can’t drive in it, but you can see a lot of logos. If you like Coldplay, or the disused environments from Devil May Cry 5 this is definitely for you.

Elsewhere, a crypto veteran announces the NFT as the only revenue model for the metaverse, in a bid to secure his entire economic career past that of the fall of House Atreides.

Check in tomorrow for Part 4, which will wrap up our 2021 metaversal journey with the October-December quarter.

Written By

Kelly lives and breathes everything Beyond Games as a futurist and self-described creative badass. And as an experienced game developer, she's worked on titles such as Tomb Raider, Halo 3 and Candy Crush.

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