Everyone has at least once in their lives dreamed of living and interacting other than their own. The Metaverse is a digital technology that makes these fantasies come true by allowing the alter ego to walk in virtual 3D space in real time. And interact with others in the same room. Many technology companies have embraced the concept. The Metaverse as an online service is expected to be the next big thing after today’s social networking services, which primarily enable communication via text, images, and video. Before this trend, the parent company of leading US social networking service Facebook changed its name to Meta, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on October 28, signaling a focus on Metaverse development.
Immersed in an Alternate World
“Metaverse” is the name of the online virtual space featured in the novel Snow Crash (Bantam Books, 1992, last issue of Spectra) by American science fiction author Neal Stephenson. The term combines the prefix “meta” (meaning “beyond”) and “universe,” but no clear definition has been established. In the broadest sense of immersion in another world, the role-playing game Dragon Quest considered a national game in Japan, can also be a kind of Metaverse of many players let themselves be immersed in otherworldly adventures while listening to the classical-style music composed by Koichi Sugiyama, who passed away at the end of September 2021.
During the technological revolution of the 1990s, Japan was a leading country in the Metaverse concept. In 1990, Fujitsu officially launched Fujitsu Habitat, a 2D graphics online chat service that became the forerunner of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. (MMORPG). In 1997, at the initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (now Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry), NTT Data Communications (now NTT Data) conducted tests of its 3D virtual space.
Machiko, which could also be used for electronic commerce. After the service was launched commercially in March 1998, it housed 300 stores and had 75,000 concurrent users. That was back when the Internet ran over telephone lines instead of fiber optics. Lines for young users to chat and shop Online overnight and early morning when phone rates have been established.
Changes in the Game Industry
In 2003, the “Second Life” app developed by US-based Linden Lab became a hot topic when users began swapping properties, and Toyota and Nissan opened stores in virtual space. But the boom didn’t last because of the limited internet speed and computer graphics at the time. The recent excitement surrounding the Metaverse can be attributed to changes in the gaming industry and communications technology advances. Most mainline games are “open world,” which means it’s up to the player. To decide what to do or how to play. A player can choose a story about defeating enemies and saving the world or enjoy an otherworldly experience by collecting rare items.
The secret of the popularity of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo’s hit home console game released in 2020, lies in the fact that players can engage in various activities, such as B. collecting bugs, fishing, and making clothes and furniture for sale.
To expand the range of possible player actions, the game world should be designed with as much detail as possible, including the landscape that changes over time, the ecology of plants and animals, and each resident’s behavior. This knowledge can create an alternate virtual reality like the real world. This fall, Tokyo-based Shinjuku-based Square Enix AI & Arts Alchemy, a subsidiary of Dragon Quest creator Square Enix that researches artificial intelligence, will offer a course at the University of Tokyo. Their goal is to create a “world model” that can predict the future by combining AI and simulation technology.
Overcoming Language Barriers
The Metaverse, a replica of reality, could serve as a testing ground to study how new technologies, such as automated driving, affect society. Professor Yutaka Matsuo from the University of Tokyo, a leading AI research expert, describes this as “the second tier of AI research towards social execution. Language barriers will not be a problem in the Metaverse as various technologies, such as machine translation, will also be available. There could be a future where the moment we want to know something, our alter egos in the Metaverse will investigate on our behalf and send us whatever information we want.
NTT is focused on leveraging the Metaverse in its IOWN (Innovative Wireless and Optical Network) concept for next-generation, high-speed communications. Facebook has announced it will hire 10,000 highly skilled employees in the European Union over the next couple of 5 years. Virtual reality (VR) headsets further enrich the Metaverse experience. Expectations are high for Metaverse services to become a mainstay in next-gen technology.