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Pop Culture Moments that Predicted the Metaverse

Published Jul 09, 2022 11:00PM ET Updated Jul 10, 2022 12:00AM ET
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Pop Culture Moments that Predicted the Metaverse
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Imagine an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds where you and I can have real-time experiences in ways we could only dream of or find in movies like Wreck-It Ralph and Free Guy. Amidst thought of its possibilities comes the metaverse, a surreal space enabled by technology that lets us connect through virtual reality headsets, digital glasses, smartphones, and other devices.

With these next-gen technologies, people can conveniently access 3D virtual or augmented realities where they can work, connect with friends, conduct business, visit remote locations, and access educational opportunities. Moreover, the metaverse will have its own currency, implying that people can commercialize their products and activities, i.e., buy and sell anything such as gaming tokens, real estate, etc.

Talking about metaverse cryptocurrency, this aspect of the digital experience offers new opportunities to users to purchase cryptocurrency tokens or metaverse coins that could potentially appreciate in value and earn them a stake in the platform’s operations.

For instance, metaverses like Decentraland, Sandbox, and Axie Infinity already integrate blockchain, decentralized finance (DeFi), and NFT technologies, thereby enabling a much more dynamic virtual environment. By purchasing their native token, an investor could anticipate an increase in the value of the token as the metaverse experience active utilization.

Circling back to the main subject here, the metaverse has been a hot topic of discussion among sectors and industries, with many eager to see how big it is going to grow, but how did pop culture play a role in predicting the birth of the crypto metaverse? And what trends are there in metaverse today? Let’s look at pop culture moments that predicted the metaverse and current trends in the metaverse today.

Snow Crash and the Metaverse Imagined

Thirty years ago, a novel spun an incredible story about the metaverse. Author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse” in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” in which he envisioned lifelike avatars who often met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments as a way of escaping a dystopian reality. Many Silicon Valley geniuses have marveled at how accurately the book anticipated the future shape of tech.

Nearly three decades later, that’s basically the future that Zuckerberg says he’s trying to build with Meta, without the dystopia. Companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Roblox, and Epic Games are also planning their own metaverses.

To enter the book’s Metaverse, Snow Crash’s main character, a hacker named Hiro Protagonist, wears shiny goggles that wrap halfway around his head to experience “a computer-rendered view of an imaginary place.” Many use this general VR headset today to access the metaverse.

Stephenson’s version of Alexa is the Librarian, a human-looking avatar that has access to a vast storehouse of information and moves “with the agility of a spider dancing across a vast web of cross-references.”

Infusing a means of transaction, Snow Crash takes place after hyperinflation has rendered the dollar all but worthless. Consumers resort to alternative currencies, such as Kongbucks. Moreover, in Stephenson’s future, there are only four things Americans still do better than everyone else: music, movies, software, and high-speed pizza delivery.

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One Book and VR

Ernest Cline released the book Ready Player One in 2011, giving the world another peek inside an entirely immersive world we could enter to escape reality. The majority of the story takes place in a virtual world called OASIS.

Users within OASIS get to own virtual resources that they pay for with credits they earn by working, winning battles, and undertaking quests. Credits earned within OASIS can also be used to purchase real-life items. This sounds like blockchain technology in today’s world. One major example is Axie Infinity (AXS), a trading and battling game that also allows for the purchase of virtual property, and it lets users cash out their cryptocurrency every 14 days for use in the real world.

Another aspect of the metaverse portrayed in the movie was the ability to be whoever you want. People can create an entirely different virtual persona and establish a digital identity.

It is believed that the gaming industry took cues from the world found inside Cline’s book in many ways. Video games became more than games, but rather a virtual world where people could hang out with friends and catch a movie or shoot aliens.

Second Life Game, a Precursor to Metaverse

Launched in 2003 by Linden Lab, the Second Life game is arguably the internet’s first attempt at what every tech giant is now racing hard to build: the metaverse.

From the beginning, Linden’s vision was that Second Life be a place for people to explore new horizons to living opened up by virtual representation and to allow its users to create what they wanted and be who they wanted.

Users lived out elaborate fantasy lives with new and sometimes variable identities, divorced from the confines of their daily grind. Some married and raised families in Second Life, developing whole communities with their own norms and rituals.

Interestingly, as early as 2006, Second Life saw an influx of real-world companies pushing promotions and advertising into the virtual space. People could exchange linden for dollars, leading to fluctuations in value and other virtual currencies.

Today it maintains itself on a subscriber model with about 70 million registrants and an average of around 200,000 daily active users. Although Second Life did set a precedent, it was not called a metaverse before. The main reason was that it was intended to be a game.

Cameron’s Movie Avatar and AR

James Cameron’s brilliant movie, Avatar, explores the world of Pandora (OTC:PANDY) by placing humans into a simulation-like reality in the body and minds of the Na’vi. Living in an environment poisonous to humans, the Na’vi are a highly advanced species capable of things beyond human intelligence.

The technology of being able to move a human’s consciousness into another species is astounding. Avatar explores this concept as well as flaunting the capabilities of AR and VR technology.

Current Hot Trends in Crypto Metaverse

The metaverse is becoming more popular by the day, with more people and brands using it for innovative activities and reshaping the future. Here are four ways these trends are happening:

1. Virtual Concerts

On November 19th, 2021, the famous American singer Justin Bieber held a 30-minute meta-universe concert on Wave’s virtual music platform. The avatar Justin Bieber sang on his latest album, Justice.

Rapper Travis Scott held a meta-universe concert held by Fortnite in August last year, while singer Ariana Grande attracted as many as 78 million players at a virtual Rift Tour that also lasted several days in Fortnite.

2. Virtual Art Galleries

The rise of digital art comes as no surprise, considering the growing popularity of NFTs, digital assets, and blockchain technology. This year, KAZoART inaugurated its virtual art gallery in the CryptoVoxels metaverse. In May, the Vatican announced it would create a virtual exhibition based on NFTs in partnership with augmented reality company Sensorium and Humanity 2.0.

3. Digital Real Estate

Virtual real estate trends are breaking physical barriers, with real estate sales in the digital space, surpassing US$500 million in 2021. Virtual properties are the core of the digital world, where users can connect, create, and cultivate.

4. Augmented and Virtual Reality in Gaming

3D Technology, AR and VR assemblies, and sonic systems play a critical role in the virtual gaming industry. Amid the rise of the Metaverse, these technologies have seen vast growth, thereby strengthening their valuation and relevance to the current market. Spaces like Axie Infinity, Sandbox, and Wider World are gaming metaverses that are well known and use cryptocurrencies.

Final Thoughts

The emergence of the metaverse was forecasted in some traceable ways including in some pop culture moments discussed above. Particularly, some movies foreshadowed virtual realities and augmented reality ideas that many viewers found amusing; however, fast-tracked to today, we are experiencing most of them in real-time.

Similarly, in video gaming, people can meet up to work on missions, interact, buy and sell and create their own avatars, stuff that only existed as mere thoughts a few years ago. Besides, crypto metaverses are immersive virtual worlds with immense social and financial potential. And their use of blockchain infrastructure enables them to tap into the wider crypto economy, making virtual items exchangeable for real economic value beyond the confines of the metaverse.

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Pop Culture Moments that Predicted the Metaverse

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