What is the “Metaverse”, the parallel universe that digital giants dream of?

The “metaverse” has become one of the most popular words in the world of technology and video games in recent months. What is it about ? And why does it make all the giants of the web dream?

A Virtual Parallel Universe

Imagine a digital world where you could live a parallel life without leaving your home: welcome to the “metaverse”, a concept developed in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in the science fiction novel Lthe virtual samurai, a cult book for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

Dancing in a nightclub with your friends in the form of an avatar, climbing the top of Everest through a virtual reality helmet, or meeting colleagues in an identical digitally reconstructed office… The “metaverse” promises to push the boundaries. shifting the physical world until the real and virtual universes eventually merge.

Gradually, screens, holograms, VR headsets and augmented reality glasses should allow that”to travel“liquids of virtual universes in physical places, such as”teleportationsFacebook boss Mark Zuckerberg predicts.

In the movie Ready Player One (2018), Steven Spielberg already called the “metaverse”

A “grail” for digital heavyweights

It is therefore understandable that the “metaverse” is considered a “grail” by the Internet and video game giants, who see it as the next great leap in the evolution of the Internet and are starting to invest massively in its development.

Last? Facebook, which Monday announced the creation of a team dedicated to the “metaverse”. †This is going to be a very big part of the next chapter for the tech industryMark Zuckerberg told The Verge. The Metaverse last week, “it is the successor of mobile internet“, he says, lamenting the limits of the smartphone as a means of accessing digital spaces.

To achieve its new goal, Facebook has already invested heavily in technology that allows people to feel physically elsewhere, such as the Portal video calling devices, Oculus headsets and the Horizon virtual reality platform. But even Mark Zuckerberg admitted that existing VR headsets “a bit clumsy“which requires a lot more development for the kind of experiences it aspires to”within about 5 years

The new video game masters are one step ahead

The race tothe holy grail of social interactionsHowever (dixit Marc Zuckerberg) has already been launched by the new giants of video games such as Roblox (game platform with numerous games made by children and teenagers) or Fortnite (shooting and survival game with cartoon-like graphics), who dream of outdated social network codes defined by Instagram , TikTok or Snapchat.

At the end of April 2020, five virtual concerts by American rapper Travis Scott, who appeared as an avatar on Fortnite, were followed by more than 12 million players in total confinement. On the strength of this success, the game that brings together 350 million”gamers“mainly 14 to 24 years old, also launched a film festival called Nite Shorts or Party Royalea gigantic virtual party hosted by renowned DJs.

Especially in a time like now, where physically coming together is more difficult, it is extremely important to have these virtual experiences. We truly see Fortnite as a platform for connected social experiences, not just a gameexplained to AFP, an executive of Fortnite publisher Epic Games, in late March.

If it has a train of delay today, however, Facebook could hit its target. For Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp owns “the huge advantage that a billion people are connected every dayIf they offer entertainment options, they are likely to be successful

But should we be happy or worried? According to the dystopian view presented in The Virtual Samuraiincluded in the novel two decades later Player one made into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 2018 (Ready Player Onesee the trailer above in this article), the future is not very reassuring…

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