In 1969, Woodstock welcomed almost half a million people over a three-day event. Over half a century on, we continue to reminisce in awe at the music event and its impact on culture and society many decades later.
These were the iconic throngs of jostling, singing baby-boomer hippies with flowers in their hair who would then give birth to the Generation-X — those fortunate enough to straddle between the analogue world of tape and paper and the digital world of bits and bytes.
And yet, for the mind-boggling imagery of 400,000 thousand people flocking to Woodstock, last year, 27 million people hooked up to Fortnite to listen to just one artist: Travis Scott.
Deep in the throes of pandemic-enforced home living, that was probably one of the many moments that signaled the mainstream awareness of why the metaverse would become such a hot topic of discussion today.
Everybody’s doing it, so it must be cool, right?
Okay, so the Fortnite concert was cool, sort of. Normally, when you log in to Fortnite, you get to see a whole virtual map area that is your battleground, where you fight other players. For Scott’s concert, an entire arena was designed as his concert ground, where players would log in and freely move around, while a giant version of Scott loomed over the entire area.
Sure, you could “dance” and explore and move and see other players entering the concert, but it soon became quite clear that it was a pre-recorded concert, with giant Scott moving through fixed moves. Even the lightning storms and back up fire dancers and gravity flip were all predetermined.
Repeating the concert gave you the exact same performance, in the same chronological order. And now that it is gone, you cannot relive the experience.
Was this the metaverse we were all getting so excited about?
A couple of months ago, TIME magazine, one of the oldest and most traditional players in print media (paper or digital, let’s be clear) decided to launch its newsletter on the metaverse. It’s not very clear to us how exactly this happened as all it looks now is just a digital newsletter meant to track all kinds of metaverse developments, but this does seem to point to a similar pattern: a lot of big corporates and business entities claiming to be going “metaverse” but without really doing much to align with anything that we technically know to be metaverse.
Why are Big Companies Looking Into the Metaverse?
Of course, we should also take a look at those big tech names diving into the actual infrastructure of the metaverse — those seeking to build metaverses (or versions of them anyway) that people like us would then plug into and live our lives virtually.
We’ve talked about Facebook before and others have also pointed out why Meta’s forays into it should be taken seriously (but not too seriously), but when we look into other big social media and tech giants like Microsoft, Tencent and Nvidia all dumping millions of dollars into research, as Zuckerberg details plans to hire 10,000 people in the EU alone to spearhead their version of the metaverse, surely there must be something in it for them?
For now, let us take note that the only metaverses currently existing now are on games — social virtual worlds where you have virtual currency.
And, more importantly, look at the attention-grabbing growth in blockchain games using crypto, where creators also earn from their creative labour. Where art and commerce thrive and develop without any linkages to the real, physical world.
So when these companies, whose basis is in the real world, see that millions of people are now moving away from centralized platforms and making money and driving commerce independently of them, it only makes business sense to get into it. After all, why miss out on this user base of young, tech-savvy people who want to give value to digital goods? Why not take some control over it, and ensure that you dictate the direction and growth of the metaverse?
We who are in blockchain of course see the value of independent metaverse, open worlds that are free to develop via open source code and community-directed governance, hosted on distributed blockchain networks that promote freedom of expression, development, and censorship-free distribution of data.
But the multi-trillion dollar industry of centralized gaming and social networks literally has trillions of dollars to lose if their users wean themselves off the existing platforms and take their spending to decentralized metaverses.
Building for a healthy metaverse
For this reason, at Cradles, it is important to us to help ensure the plurality of players building all these different versions of the metaverse. We don’t believe it is wrong to have any particular version or to focus on different ideas and agendas.
But the concept of the open metaverse where a community collectively owns the online spaces, where every user is the sole owner of their own data and creations, yet are free to profit from them, where the mature security of public ledgers and blockchain cryptography is mutually maintained by distributed, objective nodes… this version must also be allowed to thrive.
And though we build a blockchain game, we hope that Cradles and its community of Cradians can provide evidence that this type of metaverse is possible. We hope to do that ideologically through our constant encouragement of community ownership, as well as technologically through the development of our unique EIP3664 protocol for in-game NFTs.
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