Future of games: VR and Metaverse

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March 18, 2022
4 minutes
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By Jonny Gamer

In the next 20-30 years, we will likely see a major paradigm shift in how we think about and interact with games. The technology which serves as the backbone for this disruptive change has been around for decades but was once cost-prohibitive and thus impractical to implement.   

Future of games: VR and Metaverse    

As with many technologies and phenomena throughout history, it’s often several people coming together at just the right time who bring an idea to fruition. The Oculus Rift was no exception when Palmer Luckey created his prototype HMD in 2011 while trying to emulate head tracking on a personal project he dubbed “Tuscany”       

Since then, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion dollars. This milestone was significant because it brought the technology into the limelight and brought the funds needed to create commercial devices.

But what was once a simple idea by Luckey has since become something bigger than he could have imagined. And while we gamers are excited about gaming applications using head-mounted displays, this technology has many implications outside of gaming. This technology is called Virtual Reality or VR for short, but more importantly, it’s part of what will define the Metaverse. You can imagine how fun would it be to walk into a blackjack game table in virtual reality, being in the other side of the world and still look realistic.

The term “Metaverse” is an amalgamation of three words: Meta (meaning beyond), Universe (implying space), and Verse (a reference to virtual verse). So when taken together it means “beyond the universe”. It’s also named after Neil Stephenson’s book Snow Crash, famously known for introducing the concept of an online virtual world in 1992.

For over 20 years, the idea of a metaverse has been discussed but never realized. It started back in 1992 with Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Snow Crash. It’s widely regarded as one of the first novels to depict virtual reality and massively multiplayer online games. An instant cult classic, it’s now considered a prophetic book on what could be possible with today’s technology.  In this story, humans can connect their nervous system directly into a vast computer network simulating all sorts of things from the physical world they live in – even replacing their real body parts with cybernetic implants attached to said networked computer simulation which is then all linked together.

So like many sci-fi stories, the metaverse depicted in Snow Crash was built on similar technologies that are just now becoming possible with innovations like head-mounted displays for virtual reality (creating an entirely immersive 3D environment), motion sensors (to track user movements), and voice recognition/voice synthesis (which can simulate talking to another real person). These technologies will be key components of the metaverse because the appeal of this technology is its ability to make humans feel like they’re really “in” a virtual world doing anything from socializing to shopping.

The immersiveness of VR isn’t something that could be achieved before by other means such as playing video games on flat-screen televisions. In fact, current technologies require a separate computer for both processing and visualization, which is why head-mounted displays are an important technology because it negates the need for a separate computer to track what you’re looking at.

Now, this isn’t to say that using an HMD alone makes you “virtual reality”. It’s not a virtual reality unless it can deliver a complete sense of immersion into another world. And while some other technologies have been proposed such as “haptic suits” that simulate touch from other people or objects in a said virtual environment, even these add-ons fall short when compared to other aspects of having an organically seamless experience – one where everything feels real and interconnected with your senses.  

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