The Metaverse is a relatively new (and confusing) place. It can also get expensive when you factor in the VR headset that will get you into those virtual worlds (not to mention the computer you need to power it all). However, if you really want to enter the Metaverse, but feel overwhelmed by the asking price, you can participate without blowing up a paycheck on the headgear.
HTC Vive Pro 2 (Credit: Molly Flores)
In short, no. By definition, the metaverse is any virtual space in which users interact within a computer-generated environment. This way, VR and the Metaverse can come together for an enhanced experience, but you don’t have to have both. There are many different virtual worlds, and many of them can be accessed directly from your computer.
You might think that if you just control an on-screen avatar, without any virtual reality, it will be like The Sims. However, although The Sims shares many similarities with the Metaverse, it is not a connected online world, which is the main difference.
Valve Index VR Kit (Credit: Molly Flores)
What’s the difference between using a VR headset and not using it? When you enter the metaverse using virtual reality, you wear a headset that blocks your view of the real world, completely immersing you in the world displayed on the headset screen. The virtual world feels like it’s really in front of you, and the controllers you hold in each hand are used to interact with objects and control your avatar.
When you do without a helmet, the visual aspects are much less immersive. You navigate the digital world from a computer, and while you can guide your avatar, you won’t completely “become” it like you would with a headset. You can still do a lot of the same things, but the difference is the increased separation between you and the world, as well as less immersive controls.
VRChat (Credit: Steam)
VR headsets typically cost several hundred dollars, so the Metaverse can be an expensive hobby if you go all out. The advantage of starting slowly is that you can get a feel for what the metaverse entails. Here are some of the virtual worlds you can enjoy without needing a headset.
Axie Infinity(Opens in a new window): Cryptocurrency (especially Ethereum) and NFT fans might turn to a metaverse experience like Axie Infinity, a game where players collect and craft NFTs that represent digital pets (Axies), which can be battled and brought up with each other in the game.
Fortnite(Opens in a new window): While Fortnite is largely an online gaming platform, it has added more metaverse features over time, like live concerts (Travis Scott even had one) and a creative mode where players can create their own virtual worlds and interact with each other through their in-game avatars at events.
Minecraft(Opens in a new window): Minecraft is a sandbox game that lets players explore a world, mine resources, build structures, and do whatever they want with them. Minecraft is different because it allows each player to create their own metaverse instead of all players interacting together in one place. However, you can still play online with friends.
Roblox(Opens in a new window): Roblox is a gaming platform and game creation system. Players can design their own games and also play games created by others. The title has an in-game currency system that players use to make purchases in individual games (and earn real money). It is very popular, especially among children.
The sandbox(Opens in a new window). Another game that incorporates Ethereum, The Sandbox lets you build anything you want in the sandbox world. There is no end goal to achieve; instead, players build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences.
VRChat(Opens in a new window): VRChat lets you talk with other people through your avatars, play games together, and interact with the larger community. Think of the chat rooms of the 90s, but now it’s not just words on a screen, but avatars looking at each other and talking out loud.
For those new to the Metaverse, titles like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft may be the best places to start. If you are not a big gamer, VRChat can help you focus more on the social aspect; Virtual clothing has also become extremely popular.
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