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Perspective: Entering the metaverse

David Gunkel in the Metaverse
David Gunkel
David Gunkel in the Metaverse

You have no doubt seen advertisements for the metaverse; they’re hard to avoid.

The metaverse is a 3d immersive, virtual world’s platform developed by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook. You access it with the Occulus Quest headset, a rather well-designed piece of hardware that is the product of close to half a century of VR development.

As advertised, the metaverse seems to be a kinder gentler version of the Matrix, and Zuckerberg and company are betting everything on its success. I’ve already been there. And from what I have seen, it’s a bit sparse. There’s really not a lot of there there. This is by design. Learning from their success with social media applications like Facebook and Instagram, Meta wants to position itself as a platform, hosting 3D immersive apps developed by others. This is their business model: “Build it, and they will come.” And some have come.

Right now, there’s a handful of games, a few fitness programs, immersive 3D movies, and some early efforts at collaborative environments for both work and social interaction. But these apps barely approach the fun and excitement that is presented to us in the marketing pitch. Don’t get me wrong. Meta’s vision for the metaverse definitely has promise. And assuming that the 3D immersive content does in fact come, it could be the next big thing after the mobile internet. Then again, it could turn out to be little more than Second Life 2.0. What’s Second Life you ask? Well…that’s the point.

Northern Illinois University professor and author