Metaverse: Why we need to understand Second Life to understand what’s next | WARC | The Feed
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Metaverse: Why we need to understand Second Life to understand what’s next
Some of the cannier observers of the development of the ‘new’ or ‘next’ phase of the internet have noted that big virtual worlds are not new at all – Second Life has been around since the mid-2000s, it had good and bad elements, but if we don’t understand what happened there, we risk repeating those mistakes in the developing metaverse.
Why it matters
Core to all of this is the forthcoming battle between the “different visions for what digital life should and could be.” It may not be an advertising success story immediately, but virtual experience is likely to be central to our future internet.
What’s going on?
The Atlantic writer Charlie Warzel has spoken to Wagner James Au, a journalist who has been covering happenings in the massively multiplayer online game since 2003, has written a definitive book on the subject, and runs the world’s longest running news site about virtual worlds.
The whole interview is worth reading if you are interested in the possibilities of the metaverse or are about to start building or investing in the metaverse. Here are some highlights.
- This really is round 2. “This metaverse hype wave is so similar to 2008. Everything’s being repeated now – the same news stories, the same assumptions, the same mistakes. During the 2008 hype, the tech was not ready for a mass market. Today, it has become a mass-market phenomenon with Roblox and Fortnite”.
- Don’t just build stores in the metaverse. This happened between 2006-8. Key here is Au’s point that there is very little point in a car or a computer in a virtual world “where you can fly and instantiate things from nothingness”. This is the big brand mistake.
- It is inherently about user creativity. “If you give a user community powerful enough creator tools, what they create in these worlds will be far more interesting than anything a major company can officially create.”
- An in-game economy is not new. “There are 1,600 Second Life users who earn $10,000 or more a year selling virtual content. I know a few people on the high end who are making millions. And it’s not just Second Life; this is all happening now in Roblox and Fortnite and other places, too.”
- Virtual real estate might make headlines but it’s “destined to fail”. Look instead to what young people are doing: “What people don’t realize about younger metaverse users is that it’s not about re-creating a second space. The virtual space is real enough.”
- Just because you built it doesn’t mean they’ll stay. “It’s not the platform that matters as much as the community that is built around it. Rarely do communities have extreme loyalty to these platforms.”
- In a building phase, prepare for complex issues. Racism, discrimination, and misrepresentation have been “enduring” issues in Second Life, and like with social media’s rise, it remains with us.
- It’s bigger than Meta. “I don’t think that most of society has processed what it means that a huge percentage of all children in the U.S. are on Roblox. That they’re highly active in creating content for the company and trying to earn money.” The big issues are here, explains Au, both good and bad.
Sourced from The Atlantic. [Image: Second Life]
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