I’m a freelance designer. What I mean to say is that in my free time I do graphic design, and even more rarely, if I’m lucky, I get paid to do it. I’m always on the lookout for different ways to profit as an artist because let's be real, I’ve just finished college and it’s rough out there. So, when NFTs first came onto the scene, I was intrigued. On top of that, my bread and butter is without a doubt gaming and tech, so when the Metaverse came about, my mind was blown. While educating myself and deep-diving into what this real-world matrix is, though, I can’t help but wonder what the point actually is? Who, in reality, actually benefits from virtual spaces such as these? 

When first reading about it, the Metaverse seemed like an over-glorified virtual reality game. It seemed like a step up from something you could play with any old VR headset, so why were businesses losing their minds over it? First off it’s in the name: “Meta”verse. This world is being marketed as a space to play and work, to explore and create a brand new identity. But, what actually is the point? For you and me– the everyday person–  the main goal is to make our online interactivity a little more engaging, something that is a visual treat that feels fleshed out and more than just a computer screen. Outside of that, our purpose there is for businesses. 

Reports estimate that the Metaverse economy should hit anywhere between $8-13 trillion by 2030, unimaginable numbers that don’t seem to make sense when you weigh them in the context of this being what appears to be yet another VR simulation. HTC have discussed the Metaverse as an already existing concept, our media as it is now is considered by some to be an early version of the Metaverse. The appeal of the Metaverse to the everyday person has also been attributed to the blending of technology and in-person interaction as a result of the pandemic. A vast amount of us became entirely remote, and at home environments became the only place we see or interact with for days on end. With the Metaverse, there is conceptualisation space for this to become a digital location to separate ourselves while still remaining physically remote. 

Something to keep in mind when considering these technological advancements is the actual price we would be paying to get involved. Yes, these are spots that businesses are already preparing to massively make money from the everyday consumer while in this figurative Metaverse, but to actually access this space is a massive financial undertaking. Oculus, owned by Meta, is one of many VR companies that could allow you to enter the Metaverse, but not everyone is going to have the disposable income to buy these headsets that often start at $300. This doesn’t even account for the software and the accessories. Developments like these are undeniably attractive to me as a gamer, but the financial commitment to this vague concept from Zuckerberg is enough to put me off. 

The abuse that already exists in so many online platforms and games is likely to transfer into the Metaverse. VRChat is a game that allows you to essentially world jump with random people you meet along the way, and while this is a fascinating concept, it’s already broken down into a misshapen Reddit and game amalgamation of abuse and toxicity. Why would I want to spend hundreds on a gaming experience that isn’t fully realized yet, especially when I know that money isn’t going to someone who actually needs the money to create this experience for the player?