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Gaming in the Metaverse

Video games been a part of contemporary culture’s portrayal of the Metaverse for some time. While not a major part of Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash, the novel that coined the term Metaverse, video games played a significant role in Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, with the opening scenes of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation including sports games like golf, ‘hurricane hang gliding’, surfing, skiing, even jousting, alongside a first-person shooter on ‘Planet Doom’ and demolition derby-style motorsports.

Video games are now almost synonymous with the Metaverse for two reasons. First, video games companies have continually sought to enhance the video game experience through immersion, from the first joysticks, to controllers with rumble motors allow for haptic feedback through to full a motion simulator arcade cabinets – anyone remember playing G-LOC: Air Battle in the arcades on the Sega R360? And second, video games represent the most immediate and revenue-generative use case for the Metaverse. The most popular of today’s ‘Metaverses’, Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft, are based around gameplay, and people will want to escape the humdrum realities of everyday life through immersive experiences like video games.

So what might gaming in the Metaverse look like? Films like Ready Player One do a great job in imagining what video games might look like in the Metaverse, but what does a more complete picture look like? In the first volume of Tad William’s Otherland series, City of Golden Shadow, players play Middle Country, a swords-and-sorcery MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). In Middle Country gamers work for years to become the most famous character in the land, increasing their avatars attributes by defeating enemies, and collecting enchanted weapons, armour and magical items. In the future, the Metaverse will have some very famous players, more famous than today’s Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), or Richard Tyler Blevins (Ninja), and most of them will likely be playing, MMORPGs of some description. Yes, there will be esports stars with more fame and fortune that today’s richest athletes, but the biggest celebrities will be those MMORPG gamers.

This year’s Gamescon, which ran from the 23rd to the 27th of August in Cologne, Germany, had a number of new MMORPGs on show including: Bethseda Softworks’ The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle, an expansion to the highly popular, fantasy role-playing game, which celebrated its ten year anniversary back in May of this year; Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones, which allows players to explore the Indian Ocean to “overcome the odds and rise from an outcast to an infamous pirate.”; and LINE Games Quantum Knights, in which players can use firearms and magic skills to take down demonic entities.

Another thing that also caught’s eye at this year’s Gamescon, was the unveiling of Edinburgh-based software development company Build A Rocket Boy‘s upcoming “multi-world game experience” Everywhere. Revealed on the opening night of Gamescon, In Everywhere’s teaser trailer, we are shown a number of different worlds, a futuristic utopian cityscape, a areas reminiscent of the American West, a lush forest, and a volcanic wasteland. According to the Everywhere website, the game “seamlessly blends gameplay, adventure, creativity and discovery in an all-new multi-world gaming experience that redefines how players connect with one another and with the digital world around them.”

The game comes with impressive Triple-A graphics and impressive company credentials – the game’s lead producer and game designer, Leslie Benzies, left Grand Theft Auto 5 developer Rockstar Games to found the indie studio. Even more exciting however are reports of a LinkedIn job listing by Build a Rocket Boy investor, Galaxy Interactive, which describes Everywhere as a “real-life Ready Player One” with “an open-world AAA game with a multiplayer experience incorporating a multi-chapter epic narrative, user-generated content through a “virtual sandbox” where players can create their own worlds, and deep social and streaming integrations.” Whatever this means, will be keeping our ears to the ground on this one.

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Roméo A./Unsplash

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