Back to School: What is the Metaverse?

So what is the metaverse? It is any three-dimensional digital space in which people can interact with the virtual environment and each other.

Want a history of such spaces? The idea of a 3D virtual space can be traced back to an entertaining optical illusion people experienced when viewing stereographic images that were invented during the early 20th century. The first use of the term “metaverse” to describe such an experience was by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in 1992.

Fantasy Island
Image courtesy of Republic Realm.

But to fully understand how young designers can use the metaverse now, an online gaming session might be the best teaching tool. In fact, the more advanced the game design, the more types of user interactions—or ways of changing, creating and reacting to the digital space—you’ll be able to test for yourself.

For instance, if you’ve ever logged onto multiplayer game platforms such as Roblox or Epic Games’ Fortnite, then you’ve already practiced how to design an avatar that represents you in a virtual space, and you may even have designed your own room, house, or small world within the metaverse using design tools. In that case, you also know what it’s like to communicate with other gamers’ avatars and invite or follow them into adjacent 3D areas and online “rooms.” If you’ve used digital money to buy, sell and trade items with other gamers, you’ve created unique virtual objects in the form of those digital files, which can have real-world value as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

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Image courtesy of Space Popular.
Image courtesy of Space Popular.

The Metaverse Architecture + Design Awards celebrates the designers and architects dreaming up projects, products and spaces for the virtual realm. Learn more about the MAD Awards, and dive into stories that explore the industry’s new frontier.

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