The metaverse is one of those current buzzwords that gets tech bosses into something of a tizzy. Some believe that it is going to be the most important step since the roll-out of the world wide web, whereas others think it’s nothing more than a fad. Not everyone agrees on what it actually is, and fewer still on where it is going to go.
But when thinking of the metaverse, it’s best to start simple and consider the idea of social gaming. And, one of the best examples of that is Grand Theft Auto Online. GTA might not represent metaverse gaming to the same degree as games like Roblox or Axie Infinity, but the foundations – the concept, if you will – of metaverse gaming are certainly present in Rockstar Gaming’s hugely popular creation.
First, though, let’s pose the question – what is the metaverse? A good way to think of the metaverse is a shared virtual environment. That’s a neat way of showing how broad the concept is – because aren’t all video games technically a shared virtual environment?
And yet, the new raft of metaverse games takes the idea of shared environments a step further, with a particular focus on socializing. That’s the points where the lines start to blur between the virtual and real.
Diamond Resort Casino offers metaverse-type experience
GTA Online has, of course, got form here, too. The launch of the Diamond Casino Resort in 2019 felt like a precursor to shared virtual environments. The idea of games within games is one thing, but going to the Diamond Resort to socialize is another. That was further enhanced with the GTA spinoff role-playing server when it was made compatible with the Diamond Casino in February 2021.
As we know, people take role-playing in GTA very seriously. Online today, you can actually find articles about players complaining about GTA’s casino as if it were a real casino. One such article, published by dexerto.com, reported on Twitch streamer, Jaryd ‘summit1g’ Lazar, losing $500 on blackjack tables and claiming the tables were rigged at the Diamond Resort.
That, of course, is a problem. Other metaverse games and worlds have casinos, too, including Decentraland, which has an Ethereum-backed casino experience. But if you are a casino player looking for the best live blackjack online, you should stick to verified sites like Genesis Casino in Canada. The metaverse is unregulated, and you cannot be sure that the games are fair. That might be a moot point in GTA Online, where it’s not played for real money, but some crypto-backed games can end up costing a fortune in the real world. Stick to licensed operators if you are spending real money.
Facebook founder sees big future in metaverse
Nonetheless, we are now seeing this scenario where the social side of gaming is taking on a new dynamic. Casinos are an interesting addition to San Andreas and other games, but it is what they represent that is important. We mentioned Decentraland above, and it transpired last year that the company behind the virtual world was paying real people to work in the casino. The idea was that getting people to role-play was a better option to engage players than having NPCs do it.
At the end of August this year, Mark Zuckerberg, no less, claimed that future jobs might be in the metaverse. Forbes reports that big companies such as Ralph Lauren and Visa are also looking to get involved. Zuckerberg claimed that “In the future, working together will be one of the main ways people use the metaverse.”
Zuckerberg and others are keen to marry AR/VR technology with these experiences, and they see it as the next big step and the most important since mobile internet. But, as mentioned earlier, not everyone is convinced that it will take off. The concept of the metaverse has been around a long time – think back to The Sims video games of the 1990s – and it remains very much a niche space.
And yet, there is a sense that things are gathering pace. We have a melange of technologies and concepts – role-playing, VR, cryptocurrency, NFTs, the gaming boom – all complementing each other to bring exciting virtual experiences. Where will it all go? We can’t yet say for sure, but there is a lot of money being poured into it. As Zuckerberg said, you might just find that your next job interview takes place in the metaverse.