There’s been no better examination of the positive aspects that is the world of the virtual the recently released People Make Games documentary titled Making the Most of VRChat and the “Metaverse” People Actually Like. The host, Quinton Smith of Shut Up and Sit down fame, humorously describes the platform, which has developed a variety of private spaces. These include libraries and museums as well as a record store in which you can listen to anything that’s on sale or fantasy worlds, and even an eerily exact recreation of the 1990s’ Kmart complete with the photo booth. In addition, VRChat has offered the familiar experience of socialization as well as expression to transgender individuals seeking to identify themselves at first, as well as disabled individuals who are able to express themselves in virtual reality, as well as animals and otherkin who’ve created shelters for themselves as well as their kith. Smith’s interviews with members of all these groups are very touching, and serve as a reminder of the potential of anonymity online.
It brought back memories of the web I was a child with. IRC chat rooms, Neverwinter Nights private servers and a myriad of BBCode forums and LiveJournal. Each was an entirely distinct world, tacked to each other by Windows’ Windows GUI and nothing more.
The metaverse in its present shape resembles the earlier internet in a multitude of ways, including the relative freedom, the mobile communities that are devoted to specific preferences, the capability of remaining anonymous and platforms being multilayered , not flat and causing conformity. The web of GeoCities rather than the web that is Facebook.
There’s also an ugly side to that period, too. In 1995, the media expert Lisa Nakamura was warning that the idealistic visions of the internet eliminating the discrimination of all kinds were wildly exaggerated, noting that early games on the internet like LambdaMOO displayed horrendous racism, orientalism and even harassment. But it’s evident that the rationalization, homogenization the imposing of corporate-hegemony over the internet of old is not just unable to resolve the problem however, it has caused it to grow into an actual threat to democracy. Online harassment is essential in the current metaverse and are made more important by horrifying instances of abuse, such as the SumOfUs research team member who was subjected to what could be described as the virtual equivalent of a gang rape in meta’s Horizon World.
Despite the flurry of negative news, it’s important to keep in mind that the metaverse isn’t entirely controlled through Meta (nee Facebook). The clever marketing trick in the rebranding of Facebook was a deliberate attempt to connect both entities in the public’s mind. However, the truth is that the term “metaverse” describes all connected VR or AR experience regardless of the company that owns them. While a lot of attention is concentrated on Horizon World, what with Meta’s ambitions to become an all-encompassing social media platform that can be used for every occasion There are many other levels. Although the current VR as a shape of the metaverse isn’t an actual new beginning, it is at the same time connected to the internet that we have today–its radical change in media gives an opportunity to do certain things again.
We can move to a more controlled environment without losing the freedom, beauty and freedom of the virtual reality. It’s a chance to do the right balance this time. We can make a change towards a more ethically-sound regulatory system which will stop the horrible incidents we’ve seen in the past, without losing any beauty Smith discovered in VRChat. We need to stop that the world of the virtual becomes an unwelcome Planet of the Bored Apes.
We cannot afford to delegate regulation to a single corporation. People Make Games opened my eyes to the dangers of an overly aggressive approach or one that shifted the responsibility over to global hegemons that are equally concerned with PR and greedy. This is not a particularly helpful feature in protecting the best aspects of individual expression, while reducing prey-like behaviors. Although it is tempting to state that it is obvious Meta is not able to be honest in this regard. Their reason for investing this much into the metaverse is the desire to finally, construct an exclusive garden that is their own. In the end, having Oculus implies that Meta could control the Oculus system, hardware and distribution, after years of being at dependance of browsers, app stores and other equipment.
Now that we are able to see the train approaching from a mile away What do you do in order to make it stop? To address this issue I’ve proposed an approach to solve the problems of the metaverse with the least pervasive manner, and also to prevent strip-mining in full-on space.