Transcending Digital Play: Why Venture into the Metaverse?
21/07/2020

Transcending Digital Play: Why Venture into the Metaverse?

Parin Shah, our EMEA Investment Associate, on the vast opportunities that metaverses hold.

Parin Shah
Written by
Parin Shah

Metaverses may help unlock a utopia of positive outcomes that are not confined to virtual worlds, but can also help change our physical world for the better.

This year has brought on a complex cocktail of global issues, resulting in a collective stress and uncertainty. Issues like inequality, climate change, and pandemics occupy news headlines and our thoughts, with no easy solution in sight.

However, the possibilities for escape are perhaps more varied than they have ever been. We can be transported to another universe by streaming a Netflix TV series, by engaging in ‘sandbox play’ through Roblox or Minecraft on any device, and by reaching new levels of immersion playing Half-Life in VR.

In his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson coined the term the metaverse to mean a physically persistent virtual universe. Stephenson’s metaverse was a dystopia, but one that has still inspired many game developers to build virtual worlds where large numbers of people congregate. These digital worlds have opened up an entirely new genre of play — fostering the ability to build and explore entirely new spaces.

However Stephenson’s idea can be taken even further, and instead of a singular metaverse, we may in fact see attempts to create virtual worlds leading to a collection of multiverses that interact with each other to varying degrees.

Creating virtual worlds (or universes) and expanding the experience by linking metaverses in various combinations opens the door to a multitude of new gaming experiences.

Instead of Stephenson’s dystopia, we at LEGO Ventures believe that metaverses may help unlock a utopia of positive outcomes that are not confined to virtual worlds, but can also help change our physical world for the better.

This can be done through providing players with the tools to develop and master important skills such as imagination and collaboration, which are necessary skills to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The opportunity to create within new digital worlds can foster a joy of building and learning through play, both important elements that can be realised through systems that inspire creativity.

We see the potential for metaverses to be built with protocols that allow them to be inclusive, diverse and co-operative worlds. We imagine worlds that encourage the pride of creation, the desire to explore, and the development of nourishing narratives that build transferable real-world skills. Furthermore we see metaverses as inspiring their early players to build even bigger, and even better, in subsequent iterations.