Research

Highway to the Metaverse

June 16, 2021
Steven McCormack
2 mins
An Emergence

In Welcome to Nixonland, I touched on how 1970s presidential tactics had provided the spark for our current economic quandaries. In a nutshell, our motivations and personal fulfilment have been skewed by a rampant distortion of money and a tsunami of debt. We use up more and more of our priceless time in pursuit of increasingly worthless cash. We feel like we are running to stand still. No está bueno. But do not despair, for there is a potential answer. One that may surprise you.

From Games to Economies

For a few days now I've been playing around with Cryptovoxels and Decentraland; two virtual environments built on the Ethereum blockchain. Now what the shit is that, you may ask? Well, amongst other platforms, they form part of the wider Metaverse, which I appreciate makes even less sense. So here's how I understand the whole thing. Take a gaming classic like GTA. I absolutely love travelling around the expansive world of San Andreas. Compliment that with the interwebs and you can pretty much spend your entire day there. Connect with folks. Play the in-world games. Earn some GTA dollars. Etc, etc.

Now step away for a little fresh air. Consider how GTA is created by a central party (Rockstar). Their team of developers deserve a legendary status for what they have created. But there are limits to what you can do. San Andreas is not a home for your custom designed house, niche digital community or ecommerce interests after all. GTAs remit (and indeed our motivation) does not extend much beyond joy and play. Not that I complain; that is what it was designed and marketed for.

In contrast, these virtual environments are hosted on a distributed ledger (i.e blockchain). Consensys does a good job of simplifying this technology as 'a shared network in which all participants agree on ownership and involvement. Members of a blockchain network host it jointly and equally in a decentralised fashion'. Now this makes the digital arena far more interesting. Much like a developed country offers property rights via law and order, these platforms can offer property rights through code. Now with rights we acquire value. And with value we attract motivation. To build. To create. To sell. To buy. To cooperate. To do, anything. It begins to sound more like a functioning economy rather than a mere game.

Who Captures The Value?

Admittedly it is very early days. These blocky and sparse worlds don't even come close to the aesthetic quality of GTA. But I'm genuinely excited about what the future could bring. I can easily access these worlds through my browser, walk around freely with my character and participate economically. I can sign up with my soft wallet and buy parcels of land, digital artwork (NFTs) and other players assets. I can assess maps for areas with more user traffic and consider that as part of a digital acquisition strategy. iLocation, iLocation, iLocation. Combine with an augmented or virtual reality experience, and suddenly there is something rather tangible here. As per Raoul Pal, in 5 years we won't be using 2D websites. It'll be coordinates on the Metaverse.

One small question, however. What currency are we using? How on earth do we transact? Well, a sound economy must come with sound money (in my humble opinion). Fortunately, we have a ready made hard asset in Bitcoin. Now I don't know the full intricacies of blockchain interoperability, but I quite like the idea of being compensated for my virtual design / real estate / ecommerce interests with the OG of internet funny money. And as crypto adoption accelerates (thanks to the excesses of Nixonland), so does the value of these monetary and economic networks. They are mutually beneficial for each other, like old friends.

Now let's finally move on from the 1970s.

Signing out, Steven.

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash.

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