The term “metaverse” was coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snowcrash to describe an imaginary cyberspace environment where the digital avatars of real-world users could interact while purchasing virtual goods and services.
Thirty years later, the metaverse has jumped off the page into everyday life, enabling a range of experiences from virtual reality video games to augmented reality filters for morphing our faces and surroundings during WhatsApp chats.
Yet despite the successful use case examples of open world concepts and VR/AR technology in massive multi-user 360-degree playgrounds like Fortnight, Pokémon Go, and World of Warcraft, there’s more to the metaverse than its impact on the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry.
And, no, we’re not talking about growing digital crops in some Mark Zuckerberg holodeck version of Farmville decades from now.
Instead, present-day playtime applications of the metaverse are reshaping the future of work by opening exciting career paths for innovators with the right skill sets — meaning something as simple as a decent internet connection is suddenly more important than having the right “old-boy network” connections.
For instance, digital fashion designers combine an eye for style with abilities in graphics and 3D modeling to position themselves (and the brands they represent) in the virtual sector (like Adidas partnering with the creators behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs to launch a limited online collection of avatar wearables linked to physical clothing delivered to consumers in the real world).
Meanwhile, metaverse tour guides with a broad understanding of topics from pop culture to immersive navigation will lead new generations of sim-sightseers around limitless centers of interest from Esports tournaments to the digital galleries, showrooms, shopping districts, and performance spaces of vast virtual cities.
As for the people building those structures, construct architects combine the traditional knowledge base of their profession with spatial computing and raw imagination, enabling new opportunities for both artistic expression and human interaction. Why spend hours commuting to an office park or hotel conference room when colleagues can gather in simulated undersea kingdoms or lunar space labs to collaborate on projects in real time? And who needs the hassle and expense of physical prototyping when digital twins of a product can easily be tested in virtual factories?
METAVERSE BRANDS & LUXURY
Metaverse-based try-before-you-buy sampling has similarly become a common marketing tool for the beauty and cosmetics industries — like My Dior, an app allowing customers to project a rainbow of digital colors onto their actual lips until they find the exact shade they want to purchase. Meanwhile, in keeping with Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault’s recent push to futureproof the French luxury group’s brand identity, Gucci Beauty now offers online styling challenges to push metaverse glamor beyond real-world boundaries.
Indeed, such unlimited aspirational freedom is one of the biggest draws of the metaverse, allowing users to experiment with their appearances and experiences while celebrating their individuality with unique items that are impossible to replicate thanks to the innovation of blockchain.
The paradigm-shifting technology, which essentially timestamps transaction data, allows for scarcity (and, thus, big money luxury) in the metaverse, as evidenced by the recent decision of Sotheby’s to launch a high-end online auction house for the purchase and sale of NFT items and artwork.
Thus, a diverse range of new creators will have unprecedented opportunities to put their own indelible stamp on a boundless frontier while established brands and businesses can invest in more sustainable solutions for streamlining production while expanding into ever-evolving new markets.
In the metaverse, the possibilities are literally endless.